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CHSAA Soccer Player of the Year: Nick Caputi, St. Francis Prep

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Pretty high praise for a scrawny kid from Jamaica Estates, the starting goalkeeper for a St. Francis Prep team in an apparent rebuilding year.

He does not look like a classic goalkeeper — he’s not tall enough, not strong enough — but then again, the Terriers weren’t a classic championship contender.

But in November, Caputi and his teammates were the ones dancing and singing after a remarkable run that saw the Terriers capture both the CHSAA city and state crowns, prompting Prep senior Jorge Pena to compare Caputi with another miracle-worker and convincing the TimesLedger to name Caputi the CHSAA Player of the Year.

Caputi was nothing short of spectacular in St. Francis Prep’s first title run in 20 years. After a stellar regular season, which saw the Terriers slowly gain confidence after a sluggish start, Caputi was huge in the postseason.

He stopped two penalty shots in a shootout win over Regis in the quarterfinals and then saved two more in another shootout win over Molloy in the semis to send the Terriers into the city title game against archrival Holy Cross.

Against the Knights, Caputi was forced to make a game-altering stop in the 24th minute after some early shaky moments by the St. Francis Prep defense.

Chris Lupoli knifed his way through several defenders and dribbled in alone on Caputi. But the keeper dived to his right to rob Lupoli on a high shot to keep the game scoreless.

The save injected confidence in a St. Francis Prep team that withstood a tremendous barrage in the first half hour to defeat Holy Cross, 1-0.

Oh, Caputi wasn’t done there.

Next up was mighty Chaminade, a team that beat area powerhouses Martin Luther King, St. Anthony’s, St. John the Baptist, Molloy and Monsignor Farrell and was built to repeat as state champions.

The Flyers actually took an early 1-0 lead, but the Terriers roared back to win, 2-1, in the semifinals before Caputi notched the final shutout of his high school career in a 1-0 win over Canisius from Buffalo to seal Prep’s first state crown.

“Every team that came on the field with us thought they were going to run right through us and gave us no chance whatsoever, but we’re the only team standing right now,” Caputi said after the game. “For our seniors to go out like this, there is no better way.”

Updated 10:25 am, October 12, 2011
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