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TimesLedger CHSAA Soccer Coaches of the Year: Pat O’Grady & Christine Mayer/St. John’s Prep

Separately, Pat O’Grady and Christine Mayer were frustrated boys’ soccer coaches at St. John’s Prep. Mayer walked away after three seasons in 1997 and O’Grady had two disappointing years at the helm in 1999 and 2000.

But then the two joined forces. Somehow O’Grady had convinced Mayer to return and the two have found nothing but success ever since.

After winning the CHSAA Class B title in 2001, the Red Storm repeated with an undefeated season this year, earning both TimesLedger CHSAA Boys’ Soccer Coach of the Year honors.

“I knew she coached before and it’s great to bounce ideas off of her,” O’Grady said. “We’re both working towards the same thing, we had similar ideas and we shared the same level of enthusiasm.”

“Pat and I always seem to be on the same page,” Mayer said. “We can practically finish each other’s sentences.”

The unique partnership produced what O’Grady believes is the best season in St. John’s Prep soccer history as the Red Storm rolled over its competition to the tune of six goals a game en route to a perfect 13-0 season. Under their tutalege, St. John’s is 24-3-1 the last two years.

Of course, as good as O’Grady and Mayer — who are both science teachers at the school and close friends — can coach, the players still have to deliver on the field.

The Red Storm has been led by a pair of Division I prospects in midfielders Sebastin Garcia and Ferney Ruiz as well as underrated Edwin Montes and Christopher Clarke.

“As much as I thought it was our will, the players are so talented,” O’Grady said. “The level of play is incredible. The kids are much better than any other team we’ve coached. There’s talent on every section of the field.”

That was not the case during O’Grady’s or Mayer’s solo stints. Having played at powerhouse high school programs — O’Grady won a city title with Archbishop Molloy in 1992, and Mayer was a standout at St. Anthony’s in Huntington — the two had high expectations when they started coaching at St. John’s Prep.

But then both were plagued with disciplinary problems.

“I was frustrated with the level of play,” said O’Grady, who calls Molloy coach Andy Kostel a mentor. “I was trying to do simple drills I learned at Molloy and the level was so low. I found myself teaching simple things rather than getting them game-time experience.”

“I was totally frustrated,” Mayer added. “Coming from Long Island and playing soccer from a young age, soccer was my life. We were all dedicated. But it was difficult to get these kids just to go to practice. Soccer never came first.”

After winning two straight championships and with a bulk of the team returning, the Red Storm has its sites squarely on a three-peat. But O’Grady and Mayer would also like to start a junior varsity team to help insure the program’s success continues for years to come.

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