When Peyton Atteloney arrived at Christ the King four years ago, the scrawny freshman didn’t think playing Division I soccer was a possibility.
Coach Ovid Cusu joked it was hard enough to convince Atteloney to stay on the field against bigger, stronger and more physical varsity players.
But on Thursday, Atteloney signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Howard University, the first Royals player to do so since Cusu resurrected the program six years ago.
“I feel like I’m setting an example for them, that they can do it too,” Atteloney said of his Christ the King teammates. “It’s exciting, it’s really exciting.”
Atteloney was joined by girls soccer standouts Fabiana Rebecca and Christina Viaggio at a ceremony in the school’s library Thursday afternoon. Both will play Division II soccer – Rebecca at Pace and Viaggio at New York Tech.
It is yet another sign that both soccer programs at Christ the King are on the rise.
“Ever since we started six years ago, Ovid and I had visions and they’re all coming true,” Royals girls coach John Fayad said. “We decided to go to ‘AA’ [level] and heard we were going to struggle, but we did not and it’s all because of these kids. The program has taken off and we’re not looking back.”
On the field, each program enjoyed breakthrough seasons. The girls team won both the Brooklyn/Queens regular season and tournament title.
“It was the first time we won in history at Christ the King,” Rebecca said. “It’s very exciting and something I’ll always remember.”
Rebecca was a big reason why Christ the King was so successful. Despite being slowed by an early knee injury, the speedy forward had 16 goals, none bigger than the equalizer moments after Mary Louis took the lead in the B/Q final. She also had eight assists on the season.
Rebecca said she also received interest from Quinnipiac as well as a few Division III schools, but she liked Pace’s proximity to home and the chance to play right away.
“I liked the campus, I liked that it was close to home and had a lot of majors I could choose from,” Rebecca said. “They’re rebuilding the soccer program, they recruited a lot of freshmen so I’m glad to be a part of that.”
Viaggio struck for 23 goals – including a remarkable 16 in the first six games – and added 10 assists, including a pair in the Brooklyn/Queens final. The attacking midfielder, who was named second team All-City by MSG Varsity, chose NYIT over Molloy and Adelphi. Viaggio said she felt comfortable when she visited the Old Westbury school, especially meeting her future teammates.
“I’m extremely proud because no one else has done this,” Viaggio said. “It’s the first time in history this has ever happened.”
Fayad expects both to have a bright future on the next level.
“Christina is very skilled with the ball, she can use both feet, she has a high soccer IQ and Fabiana has a knack for scoring. She scores goals regardless of where you put her,” Fayad said. “I think she’s going to do the same thing in college.”
A few months ago, Atteloney thought he had his college choice set, verbally committing to New Jersey Tech. He said he liked the coaches, but the scholarship offer wasn’t quite what he expected and it was back to the drawing board late in the recruiting process.
“I started to sweat,” he said. “Being a late recruit, you don’t really expect colleges to be approaching you.”
Atteloney already had a comfort level with Howard because his sister, Leanne, went there from 2004-2008. Three weeks ago he sent a DVD to coach Michael Lawrence, who in turn dispatched an assistant coach to see Atteloney in live action with his Bayside Aston Villa travel team.
“I had a good vibe about it,” Atteloney said of Howard. “I really liked the coach, the way he approached me and convinced me to go to the school. Athletically and academically it’s very good.”
While he excelled at Christ the King as a defensive midfielder, helping lead the Royals to their first-ever appearance in the CHSAA Class AA intersectional semifinals and earning second team All-City honors by MSG Varsity, Atteloney is a natural attacking midfielder and it’s the position he’ll play with the Bison.
“Physically as a freshman in college he may have to face bigger guys, but he did the same thing at Christ the King,” Cusu said. “As the years progressed, he became our best player. I firmly believe if he understands the balance between education and soccer he’ll have a successful four years in college.”
Atteloney, Rebecca and Viaggio helped put Christ the King on the soccer map with their play on the soccer field.
On Thursday, they continued to do so by signing National Letters of Intent.
“It’s really awesome,” Rebecca said. “This is something so different. Christ the King has a reputation for basketball, but this is something new. We’re making a name for ourselves.”
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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