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JFK tops Labrae to start season

WARREN — Last year, was a renaissance season for the Kennedy Eagles boys soccer team. After posting back-to-back winless records, the Eagles finished 9-6-1 and brought back a winning culture to the program.

“We have a good team this year,” Eagles coach Anthony Ledenko said. “We want to keep it going. We’ve improved immensely.”

JFK (1-0) kicked off the 2022 campaign with a huge 16-0 victory over the LaBrae Vikings at home on Monday.

Sophomore Nick Ryan set a Kennedy record, by netting the fastest hat-trick in school history, with three goals in the first 5 minutes of the contest.

“My guys found me today,” Ryan said. “I made the runs, and put it in the net.”

It was the first hat-trick of Ryan’s career.

“I knew I could do it,” he said. “It was just about me actually putting it in the net.”

Although the Eagles dramatically improved in the win column last year, they only scored 21 total goals in 17 games. They nearly matched that mark in the first half yesterday (Sarosh Sheth, Giovanni Femia, Giorgio Femia, Michael Condoleon, Dom Ryan and Christian Swogger all scored), and JFK led 14-0 at halftime.

“Last year, we relied on a lot of young kids up top,” Ledenko said. “Our freshman and sophomores were leading the line. That’s why the goal total was so low. Obviously, they’ve improved a lot over a year period.”

Junior Will Davis has spent the majority of his time playing goalie, but he got in on the scoring act with the first goal of his career and he knew how to celebrate. After kicking the ball into the back of the net, he raced out to midfield and tackled his friend junior Riley Littler to the ground.

“I was super excited,” Davis said. “So, I went and got him. He kicked a through-ball to me, and that led me to my first ever goal. Even going back to rec-league because I was always in goal.”

Littler scored, and kept pounding the ball up the field with a strong leg. He’s also a threat on corner-kicks.

“We all played hard,” Littler said. “We did the good things. Will caught me off guard when he tackled me. We played as a team, and finally put goals in the net.”

The Vikings (0-1) weren’t as fortunate, but they played better as the game went along and held JFK to just a pair of goals (Nico Ciminero and Enzo Cantalamesa) in the second half.

“It’s a young team,” said first-year LaBrae coach Worthy Cottrill. “It’s a growing team. We’re co-ed. Last year, was the first year of co-ed. We have to work on fundamentals. Once we get the fundamentals down, things will start to change.”

Things have changed for the Eagles, and they hope that continues when they travel to Champion on Saturday to take on the Flashes at 1p.m. Champion ended JFK’s season with a 3-1 victory in the first round of the playoffs in 2021.

“We’re ready for it,” Ledenko said. “You never want to go out in the first round. We haven’t won a playoff game in a few seasons. We’re looking to win a playoff game this year.”

Beating the Flashes would be a another big step in that direction.

“We have a really talented team,” Ryan said. “I think we can go on a long run this season. We’re ready for the next one against Champion.”

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