St. Anthony's reclaims state supremacy
School night or not, the Friars were going to celebrate their state soccer championship with a slumber party.
"It was good to be able to bond with the girls after having such a great win," senior midfielder Margo McGinty said. "And we all went to school the next day."
Not even state championships earn excused absences. But the team slumber party provided the perfect ending to St. Anthony's season, which began 500 miles from home and ended with a state championship in its own backyard.
The Friars, who entered the season ranked eighth in the nation by ESPN Rise, opened the season in Ohio in early September. The two ties the Friars left with were hardly as important as the sense of team unity that came from a weekend of bonding.
"We got to know each other, the juniors got to know the seniors," senior defender Elisa Robiglio said. "We figured out where our strengths and weaknesses were and what we needed to work on for the season."
From there, the Friars cruised through the regular season, going 12-1-4 and outscoring league opponents 47-5. Kellenberg, which tied the Friars earlier in the season, seemed to wake a sleeping giant with a late-season, 3-2 win over St. Anthony's, a loss many of the Friars called the turning point of the season.
When St. Anthony's and Kellenberg met in the CHSAA championship game two weeks later, the Friars entered as an underdog but left as league champions. They emerged with a 1-0 win after Sydney Arestivo's pregame prediction that she would score a goal came true.
The Friars proved to be gracious hosts at the state tournament, which was at St. Anthony's, by sending teams home with runner-up plaques as parting gifts. Stephanie Paloscio and Reanna Marino each scored and the Emily Korber-led defense was relentless in a 2-1 state semifinal win over St. Joseph Hill Academy.
The Friars advanced to the state final against Nichols, which beat them in a controversial red card-laden loss in last season's state final. Maggie Bill opened the scoring and Marino added two goals en route to a 4-0 win that helped the Friars reclaim state supremacy.
"This was probably the most satisfying state title since we played the team we lost to last year," said St. Anthony's coach Dave Prutting, who has guided the Friars to 18 state titles and sits 14 victories shy of becoming the second girls soccer coach in state history to reach 400 career wins. "I hope we can do it again next year because we never get tired of it."
The Friars never get tired of performing their postgame dance ritual known as, "Ride the Pony," in which the team sits in a circle and two girls at a time take turns dancing in the middle. That this particular rendition was performed on their home turf after a state title made it even more memorable.
"It really can't be described by words," Robiglio said of the win. "I wouldn't want it to end any other way."
Except for maybe a slumber party.