Bonnies aim to reclaim past glory with new coach, playing style

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Fontbonne Hall is changing its strategy from speed to smarts under first-year head coach Francesco Sarrica.

The Bonnies had used a kick-and-run, high-octane style under former coach Victor Popovsky, who left to lead the new women’s soccer program at Kingsborough Community College. Now Sarrica, the school’s junior varsity coach for the last three years, has put an emphasis on possession, passing, and ball control. The players feel that their new style best fits this year’s roster after seeing it work in a scrimmage against Bishop Kearney.

“We passed the ball. We took our time,” senior stopper Kate Oliver said. “On defense we weren’t so immediate to clear the ball. Our midfielders in our offense were comfortable passing back to us. We used our goalie. We never used our goalie.”

The Bonnies are hoping a balanced attack will lead them back to the Brooklyn-Queens Class AA title game after missing it the last two seasons. Sarrica is confident he has four players he can count on for regular scoring, starting with returnees Delaina Allegretti and Ericka Cristiano.

He said freshmen forwards Maria DiCarlo and Carli Bopp proved too talented to be left down on the junior varsity squad. DiCarlo could end up being the team’s biggest offensive weapon by the end of the year, according to, Sarrica. She and Bopp will help Fontbonne make up for the scoring it lost with the graduation for Cindy Henderson and Casey Ryan.

“It’s like we didn’t lose them, because we have these two now,” Oliver said.

Oliver will lead an inexperienced defense. Alexandra McGuire replaces the graduated Marissa Scotto at sweeper and Jordan Cahill takes over for Kristina Mandala at goalkeeper. Oliver’s experience will be vital as young players like Amie McManus and Nicole Sayad step into bigger roles on defense.

“She reads the game,” Sarrica said of Oliver. “She is conducting the people really well on defense and to people in the middle.”

The Bonnies are hoping a new style, a new coach and some new faces will help them get the program back to an old place. Fontbonne won five league titles in last 10 years and this group wants to get the school back to that level again after falling in the semifinals the last two seasons.

“We want it,” Allegretti said. “We want to get there. We are not here to lose.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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