As Archbishop Molloy was taking a victory lap with the CHSAA Class A intersectional championship plaque, St. Francis Prep Coach Franco Purificato could only stand, watch and shake his head.
Before Glenn Whelan headed in what proved to be the game winner five minutes into overtime and Patrick O’Grady added an insurance marker with five minutes left to seal the Stanners’ second straight CHSAA title, the Terriers had a chance to claim victory against their bitter rivals.
Jason Gonzalez, who scored in consecutive playoff games, got in behind the stout Stanners defense with three minutes left in regulation. But his shot was saved by Molloy’s Joe Ruocco.
“That was the game right there,” Purificato said after his team’s 2-0 loss at Belson Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University. “That was our city championship. Jason woke up the last couple of games. He’s a sophomore. Maybe next year that goes in and we win the game.”
That was the Terriers’ last quality scoring chance, but the game changed on Whelan’s back post header. There was still 15 minutes left in overtime, but Purificato knew the championship was decided then and there.
“Once that first goal went in in overtime, it was pretty much over,” Purificato said.
There was little separating the two teams during the season. They played to a pair of draws and the Terriers (10-1-3) finished two points in front of the Stanners (10-0-4) to capture the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan division title.
But that was little remedy to the St. Francis Prep players, who sat teary-eyed and stunned on the turf for several minutes after the game.
“What did we accomplish?” Purificato was asked. “We finished second.”
Many of the Terriers’ key players are underclassmen, including juniors Frankie Biordi and Danny Begonja and sophomores Chris Joseph and Christian Molano.
“It’s definitely disappointing, but they’re a great team,” Purificato said. “We’ll be back next year. I have pretty much everybody back. We’re only graduating four players.”
But Purificato wasn’t thinking about next year.
“I don’t want to think about anything right now,” Purificato said. “I’m going to take a couple of weeks off. I’ve been on the field every day since August so I’m kind of burnt. I’m sure my wife’s happy with that one.”
Reach Dylan Butler at email@example.com.
©2009 Community News Group
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