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Much like some of the championship teams before them, this year's Knights are playing their best soccer when it counts, when the weather turns colder and the games become more important.
Such was the case Tuesday at Alley Pond Park, as Holy Cross avenged a 2-2 tie earlier in the season by defeating neighborhood rival St. Francis Prep, 1-0.
"I figured we'd get better as the season progressed," Gilvary said. "We've played a tough non-league and league schedule and we're certainly playing better now than at the start of the year."
Holy Cross (9-1-1) enters the playoffs on a roll, having defeated regular season champion Molloy, 3-2, and a much-improved St. Francis Prep squad within a week.
With the win over the Terriers, the Knights clinched second place in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan and will play in the CHSAA quarterfinals at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point Sunday at either 12:30 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. Molloy, the top-seed from the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan, will also play at Kings Point.
St. Francis Prep (7-3-2) garners the No. 3 seed in the division and will play at either 12 p.m. or 2 p.m. Sunday at Iona College in New Rochelle.
"There are a lot of guys on this team who were on the team last year and they saw what happened in the postseason," Gilvary said. "When you reach a certain level of success, it gets based on the postseason. We look at the regular season as a learning process and a way to get to ready for the games at the end of the season."
In an important game to decide second-place in the division, the Knights dominated play. The defense, anchored by senior Andrew Isopo, never allowed the Terriers' potent offense a scoring opportunity.
St. Francis Prep's lone chance came in the 27th minute when Rolando Rojas' cross in the box was chipped by Tom Murdoch wide of the far post from 10 yards out.
Holy Cross had several scoring chances, most by talented junior midfielder Tamer Mohamed, who surprisingly was able to find open space.
"They have Tamer and you can't give him four open shots on goal," said St. Francis Prep first-year head coach Franco Purificato. "He missed three and on one blown coverage, he put it in."
After shooting the ball wide on three quality opportunities, Mohamed made the most of a great ball from senior midfielder Jiva Milenovici in the 64th minute. In stride, Mohamed received the ball down the wing and sent a low hard shot past Prep keeper Danny Torres from 16 yards out to give Holy Cross a 1-0 lead.
"I knew Tamer was going to be there," Milenovici said. "I just keep feeding him balls and I know he'll finish one or two of them."
"Jiva, Andrew [Isopo] and Jeovani [Parades] played me some great balls," Mohamed said. "The first couple of times I didn't get a great shot off, the last one I finally did."
Molloy 3, St. John's Prep 0. The Stanners improved to 10-1 courtesy of Robert Sardis' three goals in Tuesday's win over the Red Storm, clinching the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan title for Molloy.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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