Big help: Diminutive forward’s goal earns Eagles crown

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The smallest player on the field delivered big.

Sprite-like St. Edmund forward Josephine Romano delivered the game-winning goal in St. Edmund’s 1–0 victory over Monsignor McClancy in the Diocesan Championship at Aviator Sports and Events Center on Nov. 2, avenging the Eagles’ loss to McClancy at the end of the regular season.

The sophomore’s size concealed her skill, the squad’s skipper said.

“Because of her stature you don’t really think that this girl can produce anything, and she is out there doing it time and time again,” St. Edmund coach Cathy Blundell said.

Romano split two defenders while running onto a pass from Sophia Mellace. Once she was free, McClancy’s keeper came charging her way, but Romano shot early into the lower-right corner from 15 yards out and tallied the game’s only goal. The goalkeeper’s charge actually simplified Romano’s job, she said.

“It made it easier, because I just had to kick it to the side of the net,” she said. “I threw my hand up and was really happy.”

Goalie Elizabeth Meringolo and the team’s veteran defenders maintained the lead. Eagles assistant coach Dan Mangano moved senior forward Lauren Barone back as an extra defender with to keep McClancy stars Nikole Saa and Alex Ulic from getting free in the box.

“All the aggressive ones in the back, all the fast ones in the front, and we just went at it,” Barone said.

McClancy’s Crusaders (9–4–5) peppered the net early and often in the first half, but Meringolo stepped in front of every try. The freshman was a godsend at the beginning of the year when the Eagles (now 9–5–4) did not have anyone to protect the net, the coach said.

“At the sign-ups she said, ‘I’ve only played goalie,’” Blundell said. “I said, ‘That’s okay.’”

Barone and fellow captain Taylor Draxdorf made the advantage stand up in the second half. McClancy controlled play over the final 20 minutes and had one final scoring chance in the 71st minute, but even with an open net, Saa couldn’t get her foot to Ulic’s cross.

By doing so St. Edmund and its senior secured a third crown, continuing their division dominance — a status few teams can claim, Barone said.

“That’s amazing,” she said. “Who can say that?”

Now, the Eagles can.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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