The Msgr. McClancy H.S., East Elmhurst, girls’ varsity soccer team made school history by capping off an undefeated regular season with a city championship title.
However, given that this is 2020 — the year of the unexpected — there is of course a loophole that doesn’t take away from the team’s accomplishment yet perfectly fits the theme of this unprecedented year.
After finishing 6-0-1 in the GCHSAA ‘A’ division regular season and defeating Moore Catholic H.S., Staten Island, in the semifinals, the Crusaders were set to defend their two-straight city championships. The Mary Louis Academy (TMLA), Jamaica Estates, beat Fontbonne Hall Academy, Bay Ridge, in the other semifinal matchup.
The city final match was slated to be played on Nov. 14. Unfortunately, several cases of COVID-19 within TMLA forced a number of key soccer players to have to isolate for two weeks. New York State set strict guidelines of when fall sports had to end, and the TMLA quarantine would have lasted beyond that date.
As a result, the GCHSAA decided that McClancy would be crowned this year’s city champion. The title is the Crusaders third straight and fourth in the seven-year history of the program. This year’s team is the first varsity team in school history to finish undefeated.
“My girls were bitterly disappointed, but of course, we have to look at the bigger picture of safety and health,” said head varsity coach Robert May. “The girls are competitive and they all want to win, but when they sit down and realize it, this was the best call based on, unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Despite the unusual circumstances, the Crusaders rose to the challenge and dealt with everything thrown their way. First, it seemed like a season wouldn’t even happen over the summer, and then the student-athletes adjusted to playing an aerobic sport like soccer with a mask.
They were allowed two five-minute mask breaks throughout the match. The team also had to limit transportation options for players, conduct temperature checks often, keep sanitizer spray on the sidelines and refrain from shaking hands with their opponents.
Though disappointed, the student-athletes really kept the whole situation in perspective. Their resilience this fall in handling challenges will be remembered as much as their city championship title.
“I think we would have been able to earn that third-straight title,” said senior co-captain and right midfielder Kristen Chavanne.
“But I can’t complain because at least we had a season. Some schools didn’t even have the opportunity to play.”
“I don’t think anyone is going to forget what this year has been like, but just the fact that we had the opportunity to have an entire season, I’m going to remember that without a doubt,” said senior co-captain and defensive right back Isabella Wise-
man. “I’m honestly so happy that I got to play out my last season, even in the weirdest way possible.”
McClancy has been no stranger to hoisting city championship trophies in girls’ soccer, yet there’s something about this year — despite not even playing the final game — that is more special than the other city titles.
“It shows that if we put our minds to it, throughout any circumstance, we can really achieve what we want,” said senior co-captain and right forward Brianna Arnao. “And that’s exactly what we did, especially having an undefeated season and becoming three-time city champions.”
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