Mary Louis tops Fontbonne for B/Q soccer title

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It became a reality for Katie Sanchez when she woke up Monday morning and almost immediately the butterflies began to dance around in her stomach. Sure she knew that she and her Mary Louis teammates were going to play rival Fontbonne Academy in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan soccer championship at the Metropolitan Oval, but it was always a few days away. Tomorrow became today and the freshman was nervous.

While Sanchez couldn’t eat lunch and sheepishly admitted to not being able to concentrate on her schoolwork Monday, when the whistle blew to start the match Sanchez was ready as she scored four goals, including the first 41 seconds into the match, to lift the Hilltoppers to a 4-2 overtime win over Fontbonne.

“It’s crazy, I never really thought this would happen,” Sanchez said of her four-goal performance. “But I’m not the only one, it’s a team effort. We all work well together.”

The win caps a perfect 10-0 season for Mary Louis and avenges two straight championship game losses for the Hilltoppers, including last year’s 1-0 lost to the Bonnies.

“This has been three years in the making, it’s very satisfying,” said Mary Louis head coach Tom Bruin, who was doused with water and had chocolate cupcakes smeared on his face by his jubilant team. “The reason we didn’t win those games is that we were short that scoring touch.”

Enter Sanchez, a talented forward who plays Long Island Select soccer with the Syosset Screamers and who looks much older than 14.

“She has grown a lot in the last two years,” Bruin said of Sanchez. “She comes from a big stock and she is such a developed player. She looks like she’s been playing soccer for 15 or 20 years.”

When Bruin took over the Mary Louis soccer program three years ago, he inherited a Hilltoppper team that was 0-30 in three seasons and had just two players who played club soccer. Three years later all 21 players on the Mary Louis roster play club soccer and two freshmen, Sanchez and Katie Ballin, play Select ball.

“I’m not a great coach,” Bruin said. “I just happen to be lucky to be coaching in an area where a lot of players are in the Long Island Junior Soccer League.”

While Sanchez put Mary Louis ahead less than a minute into the game, Fontbonne (7-3) tied the game seven minutes later as senior Nicole Turchi chipped in a cross high inside the near post.

The defending champions took the lead five minutes into the second period when junior forward Christina Tammaro, who gave the Hilltoppers defense fits all game with some great speed, raced down the wing and slotted the ball past Mary Louis keeper Theresa Ciccaroni from 12 yards out to give Fontbonne a 2-1 lead.

Fontbonne’s lead held up until the 71st minute when Sanchez beat Bonnies’ sophomore keeper Joanna Gillen low to the far post to tie the score at 2.

The Bonnies had numerous chances to win the game late in the second half, but an attempted clearance by Ciccaroni blocked by senior Lindsay Sleeper skipped inches wide of the post and Tammaro, who again found space, slotted the ball wide of the far post with three minutes left in regulation.

“We had our opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish them,” said Fontbonne head coach Tony Turchi. “We had at least four breakaways and we should’ve cashed them in.”

Just as she had at the start of the game, Sanchez wasted little time in netting the hat trick, as she needed just 29 seconds of overtime to give Mary Louis a 3-2 lead. Sanchez iced the game four minutes later when her shot from 22 yards out deflected off a Fontbonne defender and into the net.

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

Posted 7:25 pm, October 10, 2011
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