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The Fontbonne Hall girls soccer team seemed to be cruising to what would have been a fifth straight CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title. The Bonnies won 15 games straight, including two victories against rival Bishop Kearney in the regular season, before meeting Kearney again in the diocesan championship game.
What followed was completely unexpected. Kearney upended Fontbonne, 2-0, to win Brooklyn/Queens and earn the right to head to Buffalo for the CHSAA state tournament. Just like that, Fontbonne’s season was over.
“The first goal was a shock,” Bonnies coach Victor Popovsky said. “No one scored against us all year. But it happens to the best teams.”
Popovsky is not bitter about the loss %u2013 he thinks his team had a “great” 2008 season. It’s easy to figure out why. Many of Fontbonne’s best players last year were sophomores and the Bonnies graduated just four seniors headed into this season. There’s no doubt they are the favorites to take home a fifth Brooklyn/Queens title in six seasons.
Leading the crop of returning juniors is forward Colleen Ryan, one of the best players in New York City. Her knack for scoring goals is second to none in the division and Fontbonne will rely on her quite a bit this season. She plays club soccer with the Brooklyn Knights, one of the top organizations in the area.
“She’s very, very fast, she has great ball control, positions herself right and scores a lot of goals,” Popovsky said. “There’s no doubt that she’s going to succeed and become a [Division I] player.”
Ryan is a handful enough up top, but Fontbonne has another blue-chip forward in Kristiana Padovona. The other junior striker, who plays club ball for prestigious Blau Weiss Gotschee, also has great speed and excellent footwork.
“She was a very big part of our success last year,” Popovsky said.
Yet another junior %u2013 Katie Henderson %u2013 will anchor the midfield. This current core of Bonnies has a chance to do incredible things at the Bay Ridge school and Popovsky knows it. Juniors Annette Scotto, a left fullback, and Chloe Pagano are the top players on defense.
“I’m happy about that,” he said of the team’s relative youth.
Popovsky is in his third season at Fontbonne and coached many of the current players with the Brooklyn Celtics youth team. Some of the others he guided back then now play for Kearney, which provided some irony last year.
“People were saying, you brought them up and then they beat you in the finals,” Popovsky said with a laugh.
The Bonnies are determined not to let the same thing happen again.
“It’s an even harder task, but the feeling I get from the girls is they can’t wait to get them back for that loss,” Popovsky said. “They’re like, ‘C’mon, we want to play Kearney already.’”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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