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Mifsud’s hat trick sends defending champ McClancy back to final

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Teammates congratulate McClancy's Joey Mifsud (c.) after his goal. Photo by Christina Santucci
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McClancy's Joey Mifsud and St. Edmund's Matt Cappiello chase after the ball. Photo by Christina Santucci
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St. Edmund's goalkeeper Terrance McCarthy dives for the ball. Photo by Christina Santucci
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St. Edmund's Ilir Mujaj helps teammate Matt Cappiello off the ground. Photo by Christina Santucci
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St. Edmund's Ilir Mujaj tries to control the ball. Photo by Christina Santucci
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McClancy's Gabriel Yacono congratulates Kevin Leon after his goal. Photo by Christina Santucci
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A St. Edmund's player and McClancy's Michael Ferrera battle for possession. Photo by Christina Santucci
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McClancy goalkeeper Xavier Carillo sends the ball back onto the field. Photo by Christina Santucci

There is a running joke around the Monsignor McClancy soccer team about Joey Mifsud.

The junior creates so many scoring chances that he can possibly finish all of them, and his teammates jokingly get on him when he doesn’t score.

“It’s a playful back and forth,” Crusaders Coach Michael Sylvester said.

Mifsud was not playing around against St. Edmund and left his teammates nothing to kid him about. He recorded a hat trick in McClancy’s dominant 5-0 home win in the CHSAA Class A boys’ soccer semifinals Wednesday afternoon. The defending champion Crusaders advance to their fourth final in the last five years. They face St. Joseph by the Sea at 3 p.m. Sunday at Belson Stadium, where they hope to add more hardware.

“The first [title] is always good,” Mifsud said. “The second one really enforces that feeling that you real deserved that win.”

He might have had the biggest day, but super sophomore Kevin Leon, who scored twice, had arguably the most important goal. St. Edmund goalie Terrance McCarthy appeared headed for a big day by making three tough saves in the opening 18 minutes. Leon changed that by outrunning McCarthy to a James Linehan pass just outside the box on the left side. He popped it over McCarthy’s head just before colliding with him.

“I saw the keeper coming to me and I just chipped it over his head,” Leon said.

Misfud put in a critical goal off a feed from George Alissandratos with 30 second left before halftime to make it 2-0. McClancy (14-1-3) tacked on three more goals after the break for a comfortable win over St. Edmund (7-10-0), which upset Cardinal Spellman in the quarterfinals. Sylvester is happy to see his offense playing well before the playoffs.

“In the playoffs, you have to make [chances] count,” he said. “The teams are going to get better and better.”

McClancy will face a good St. Joseph by the Sea team in the final. The two squads played to two scoreless ties during the regular season, and St. Joseph by the Sea is one of the league’s top defensive teams.

“If we stay focused,” Misfud said. “I feel we can show what we got.”

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