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St. Francis girls soccer aiming at division title

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The St. Francis Prep girls’ soccer team fell just one goal shy of advancing to the Nassau-Suffolk Catholic High School Girls Athletic Association final last year.

And while six starters graduated from the Terriers team that went 11-3-1, head coach John Jenkins is confident his team can once again contend for the league championship. The reason?

Fillipa Petruccelli.

“Fillippa is probably the best player in the league,” Jenkins said of Petruccelli, a senior midfielder who will be asked to carry the team. “She’s physically strong, she can play offense or defense. This year we’re going to give her the freedom to play her game.”

Joining Petruccelli are returnees Lynne Dunham, a senior midfielder, senior defender Cheryl Meaney, senior midfielder Susan O’Connell, junior sweeper Catherine Galiano, junior midfielder Catherine Leitteri and junior midfielder Katie Purcel. Tina Rodriguez, a sophomore stopper, and freshman defender Jacklyn James are two newcomers who should see ample playing time.

“With Fillippa and Lynn, who is a tremendously strong forward, we should be very competitive,” Jenkins said. “We should be where we were last year.”

The Terriers open the 2001 season on the road, taking on Kellenberg Friday and Sacred Heart Monday. Other top teams in the NSCHSGAA should be St. Anthony’s and Holy Trinity.

The Mary Louis Academy also came close last year, falling in the Brooklyn/Queens Catholic High School Girls’ Athletic Association championship game for a second year, losing to Fontbonne Hall, 1-0.

Many of the key cogs from that sophomore-laden Hilltopper team is back for head coach Tom Bruin, who lost only three starters from last year’s squad that finished with a 6-2-1 record.

“I’m real happy,” Bruin said. “The seniors were real good kids, but the players who are coming into the program are strong players.”

Leading a group of eight juniors are captains Liz Gippetti, a center midfielder, and Shauna Kelly, a junior midfielder while sophomore forward Meghan Cuminskey possesses a deft scoring touch.

Forward Katherine Sanchez, forward Katie Ballin, defender Caitlin Tweedy and forward/midfielder Lauren Milczinski lead the strong crop of newcomers, as Bruin again said he believes the Hilltoppers will contend for the division title. The Mary Louis Academy opens the 2001 season at Fontbonne on Sept. 13.

“Our strength should be our ability to possess the ball,” he said. “We’re very strong on and off the ball.”

After an inaugural season which saw Christ the King score just two goals and go winless, Royals head coach Frank Visone knows that year two is still about learning the game.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.

What will make things tougher for Visone is that Christ the King will be without two of its best players from last year, as goalkeeper Mary Bainor, who stopped all three penalties she faced last year, and defender Rebecca Canter, have graduated.

The future, however, is bright for the Royals, as Visone will look to build a foundation around sophomore center midfielder Lorraine Carita. Another key contributor should be senior midfielder Christina Traverson, while newcomers like sophomores Christa Marino and Andrea Parpas and freshmen Amanda McGovern and Joanna Fiore should also provide a solid core for the coming years.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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