LEWISTON — The Monsignor Martin Association crowned three new soccer champions on a sunny Sunday at Niagara University.
St. Joe’s avenged three regular season losses to St. Francis with a 1-0 victory in the North division (large schools) boys championship game.
Nardin beat Nichols, 2-1, for the third time this season to win the North division girls championship.
Immaculata put the capstone on an undefeated Monsignor Martin season with its first championship since 2002, beating St. Mary’s, 10-0, in the South division girls title game.
St. Joe’s (8-7-3) returns to the state Catholic semifinals for the second time in three years and will remain on Vincentian turf when it plays St. Francis Prep from Fresh Meadows, Queens, on Saturday at St. John’s University.
Nardin (17-2-2) will meet Christ the King in a semifinal Saturday at Aviator Field in Brooklyn.
As champion of the South division (small schools), Immaculata (14-1-1) does not advance to state playoffs.
After beating regular season and defending playoff champion Canisius on Wednesday, No. 4 seed St. Joe’s finally prevailed after three one-goal defeats – two in double-overtime – to No. 3 seed St. Francis this season.
“The kids have worked their tails off,” St. Joe’s coach Mike Thoin said. “We started off real slow, we had a lot of injuries and played a difficult schedule. But we kept working and from the very beginning of September, we got better every day.”
Brandon Cryan scored on an assist from Andrew Lutley for the Marauders late in the first half.
“Andrew sent the ball, I ran after it and the next thing I knew, the goalie was there, I was on the ground but the ball was in front of me, and I tapped it in,” Cryan said.
“We finally finished a chance,” St. Joe’s midfielder Henry Frohm said. “And then we just stuck it to them. We were determined not to let them score on us.”
St. Francis (10-10-1) possessed the ball for much of the second half and had two near-goals.
Michael Dhliwayo’s left-footed shot from just outside the crease hit the cross bar in the 53rd minute, and Seth Snyder put the ball in the back of the net with 3:36 remaining, but a hand ball penalty disallowed the goal.
“It was tight all three games this year with St. Joe’s and we didn’t expect to blow them away by any means,” St. Francis coach Tom Braunscheidel said. “We just didn’t get the luck of the bounce.”
In the girls final, a pair of freshmen led No. 1 seed Nardin to victory. Sidney Scello scored the winning goal on a breakaway with 18:22 remaining and Emma Gervase scored the opening goal and assisted on the winning goal. Senior Sarah Donahue’s corner kick set up Gervase’s goal in the 24th minute.
“I was so excited when I saw it go in, I couldn’t stop screaming,” Gervase said.
Jennifer Roach scored off a scrum in front of the net to put Nichols on the board with 8:57 left to play, but Nichols could not generate another good scoring chance before time ran out.
“We didn’t play our normal style, but we prevailed,” Nardin coach Frank Cotroneo said. “It is hard to beat a rival three times in a row. This was a hard-fought game, and we were up to the challenge.”
In the opening game, Immaculata built a 3-0 lead in the first half and scored three more goals in the first nine minutes of the second half.
Senior midfielder Stephanie Busha scored four goals for Immaculata. Kiley Austin (two goals), Monica Schaffstall (two goals), Emma Lipinski and Kristen Kline also scored.
“Our seniors gave it their all,” Immaculata coach Jeff Au said. “They played hard all year long. I couldn’t ask anything more out of them. They have heart, they have soul and they are dedicated.”
Immaculata lost in the championship game in each of the last two seasons.
“Our coach constantly reminded us that last year we got beat in the championship,” said Lipinski, a senior captain. “Every day we would remind each player on the team that we could win it this year.”
“We came through this season,” said Schaffstall, a senior. “We worked hard throughout the whole year. In the past we have been down, but we knew this year that we could take it if we really worked hard and pulled out the win.”