Archbishop Curley's Anthony Celenza answers to the nickname, "Herc."
That's short for "Hercules," and the sophomore striker is making his strong presence known quickly in the MSA A Conference soccer world.
"Herc has scored in every game for us," said Curley coach PePerella after Celenza headed in the only goal yesterday as the Friars improved to 4-0 in A Conference Division I, beating Boys' Latin. "He's just a born finisher."
Celenza is a rarity among his peers, because he doesn't play winter, spring or summer soccer.
"I work at a restaurant in Little Italy," he said.
"Herc always knows where the ball is going to be and he gets there," said Perella, citing a goal Celenza scored against Mount St. Joe earlier this season. "Joe Bailey hit a scissors kick 35 yards and everyone just stood and watched except Herc. He sprinted toward the goal and played the carom off the post perfectly."
Yesterday, Celenza circled the Lakers' defensive wall on Bailey's direct kick and beat goalkeeper Pat Grimsley with a perfectly placed header to the far corner of the net.
"They didn't mark me and I saw it was open to the far side," he said. "I just went for the opening and looked for the ball."
The goal came 7 minutes and 14 seconds into the contest. Perella didn't think it would hold up.
"Boys' Latin really impressed me with their size, and those big guys could move," he said. "This was a typical game for our field. The sun and wind was a big factor in the second half. We had to work so hard [against the wind] just to get the ball to midfield in the second half."
Boys' Latin unleashed its offensive arsenal with the wind at its back in the final 40 minutes, but lacked the finishing talents of Celenza. The Lakers (6-1, 3-1 league) outshot the Friars (5-1 overall) 21-10, but failed to beat junior goalkeeper George Mayer.
"George easily had his best game ever," said Perella. "He was on the junior varsity last year, but he proved what he can do under pressure."
Mayer, a product of the Rosedale recreation leagues, spent his summer working at former Blast goalkeeper Keith Van Eron's camp. He repeatedly used stalling tactics in the second half to frustrate the Lakers and give his overworked defense frequent breathers.
"We don't practice that [stalling]," said Perella. "The game just evolved that way."
Mayer waited until he was challenged by the Lakers beforpicking up the ball. Against the wind, punts and goal kicks had little chance to reach midfield, so Mayer varied his distribution and ran time off the clock as often as he could.
Curley plays at Severn (3:30) tomorrow; Boys' Latin is at Friends (3:30).