Chance can uproot mighty empires. So imagine its impact on high school soccer seasons.
Look no further than the St. Anthony’s boys soccer team, which is nationally ranked and primed for a run at the Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA title.
Co-captains Justin Carfora and Nick Cestaro could easily be playing somewhere else. Carfora weighed going to Chaminade before choosing the Friars instead.
Cestaro wanted to leave the South Huntington parochial school after his freshman year. But friends and classmates motivated him to stick it out.
“I’m really glad I stayed,” said Cestaro, now a senior midfielder.
So are his teammates. Carfora, Cestaro and senior midfield T.J. Butzke are returning starters from last season’s 15-3-2 team. After battling Chaminade to a 1-1 tie through two overtimes, the Friars fell in the title game, 4-2, on penalty kicks.
“We lost in the league championships,” said Carfora, a speedy, 5-foot-7 center/midfield from Plainview. “We emphasized to everyone that it can’t happen this year. It was the worst feeling walking off that field.”
The Friars are ranked 32nd nationally by Student Sports. New York is an elite soccer state and St. Anthony’s faces two of the top perennial powers anywhere – rivals Chaminade and St. John the Baptist – twice during the regular season and often once more in the playoffs.
“The goal differential between us and Chaminade is amazing,” said Co-Coach Gene Buonaiuto, referring to a string of scoreless ties the two programs have played, including two last season.
“When you talk about the strength of our league, what a lot of people fail to realize is when you look at league structures from around the country, there aren’t too many leagues where you go head-to-head [with the same team] three times a year,” Co-Coach Don Corrao said. “That’s what makes this interesting.”
The Friars open league play at St. John the Baptist Sept. 10 at 4:15 p.m. and host Chaminade Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. The Friars look to play in their eighth straight Nassau-Suffolk CHSAA championship game.
It takes more than two stars to win in the Catholic league. Carfora and Cestaro are playmakers, but St. Anthony’s is loaded with talent. Junior forward Jake Giuffrida, who saw a lot of playing time, also returns. Watch junior defense Beau Hornberger and senior Josh Weiss, who moves into goal.
Senior attack MichaelAngelo Sini, back after missing his junior season, is expected to be a creative force.
“We can definitely score.” said Cestaro, from Massapequa. “Last year we had a dominant defense and we struggled to score. This year I don’t think we’ll have a problem scoring.”
Chances are you’ll hear plenty from Carfora and Cestaro this season and beyond. As fate would have it, each is committed to play soccer at Holy Cross.
How the Friars fare this season – their fortunes will be sowed on the field come November.