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St. Francis Prep shuts out Christ the King

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Christ the King is the only team to beat St. Francis Prep this season. So when the Terriers had a chance to avenge their season-opening loss, SFP did so emphatically.

Despite the school’s all-time leading goal scorer, Kenny Redzematovic, sidelined with an injury, St. Francis Prep brought pressure early and never relented. The effort resulted in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Royals in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens AA boys’ soccer Thursday afternoon at Kissena Corridor Park.

“We expect to do this every game,” said Terriers Coach Franco Purificato. “We lost to these guys earlier in the season and we’ve been waiting to get back on the field with them.”

With Redzematovic out of the lineup, forward Lawrence Nikaj scored two goals, one early in the first half and one late in the second. St. Francis Prep (10-1-0), the defending intersectional champions, kept on the offensive attack on for the entirety of the game, dominating the time of possession and forcing Christ the King (8-2-0) into long, tiring defensive sets.

“Prep came out very strong and we just couldn’t keep up with the set pieces,” said Christ the King Coach Ovid Cusu. “They scored their first three goals off set pieces and throw-ins killed us.”

After Nikaj’s goal to open the scoring in the first half, forward Eric Mirkov scored on a free kick, pushing the lead to 2-0. In the absence of Redzematovic, Mirkov’s presence helped to spur the Terriers’ victory.

“Kenny is, for me, the best striker in the league,” Mirkov said. “With him being out, we knew we had to keep our heads and we never doubted our talents. We can play.”

In the second half, Christ the King, coming off a win over Archbishop Molloy, was able to do more offensively, working the ball into the box, but never being able to capitalize. The defense of St. Francis Prep tightened, preserving the shutout. The defeated wasn’t discouraging to Cusu.

“We have to find a way to snap out of it,” he said. “We need to keep concentrating. We lost the battle, not the war.”

As for the Terriers, they were scheduled to play rival Archbishop Molloy Tuesday. They move forward with still just one loss, a defeat that Purificato calls, “the best thing that could have happened to us.”

“Some of these kids hadn’t lost a game in three years,” Purificato said. “It really was a wake-up call and we haven’t looked back since.”

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