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Beechhurst’s Lettieri propels Prep to win

With one strike of Kellenberg senior Kimberly Costanzo’s right foot, the St. Francis Prep girls’ soccer team saw its 1-0 lead evaporate with 12 minutes left in a critical Nassau-Suffolk Catholic High School Girls Athletic Association match Monday at Fort Totten.

The Terriers, clearly dejected for giving up a late free kick, could have easily folded as they did in a 3-0 loss to the Firebirds Sept. 20.

But Christine Lettieri wouldn’t let that happen.

The senior from Beechhurst urged her team to keep their heads up and led by example, netting the game-winner two minutes later to give St. Francis Prep a 2-1 win.

“I knew we were going to win this game,” Lettieri said. “I said immediately, ‘let’s go, girls, pick it up and get another one.’”

Lettieri set up for a free kick from 22 yards out and ripped a shot that tipped off Kellenberg’s five-man wall and into the upper right corner of the net.

“I always hit the ball over, but this time I knew it was going in,” Lettieri said. “It hit off one of the girls’ shoulders but it kept going straight through.”

Lettieri’s goal was the third set piece goal of the unusually physical match.

“It was a very physical game, it was unfortunate,” said Kellenberg coach Melanie Dougherty. “I’d rather win or lose when the game is not based on fouls.”

After possessing the ball in the back, but struggling going forward, St. Francis Prep (7-1-1, 5-1-1) took a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute on the game’s first corner kick.

Cristina Dasilva attempted to one-time Kaitlin Purcell’s corner kick, but the junior midfielder shanked the shot. She followed with a second shot that beat Kellenberg keeper Megan Kline low off the far post from 15 yards out.

Kellenberg (7-3-1, 6-2-1) tied the game at 1 in the 68th minute when Costanzo’s free kick from 25 yards out along the far sideline tipped off Christina Aquilon’s finger tips and into the net.

“They came out not ready to play,” Dougherty said. “They were coming in off a high of a win against Sacred Heart (1-0 Friday) and we beat them 3-0 before. They just thought it would be an easy game and they were a step behind all game.”

After Lettieri scored the go-ahead goal, she moved back to defense and cleared any last-minute Kellenberg attempt down field.

“Every team has their own ID and one thing this team has is they’re a very confident group,” said St. Francis Prep coach John Jenkins. “No matter who they play, whether they’re leading or losing, they’re confident they will be the victors.”

The win moves St. Francis Prep into first place in the league but the Terriers have a pair of huge games ahead, hosting league powerhouses Sacred Heart and St. Anthony’s Friday and Monday.

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

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