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Fordham Prep Needs big push to replace '07 success

Posted Thursday, September 04, 2008 by NY Daily News

Fordham Prep needs big push to replicate '07 success

Thursday, September 4th 2008, 11:10 AM

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Fordham Prep brings back just four starters from 2007 title-winning squad ...

It was minutes before Fordham Prep's first preseason practice, and the defending CHSAA champs were ready to roll.

But before the first ball was kicked at Murphy Field early last month, coach Peter McNamara wanted to make something clear: The Rams had to leave last season behind.

"Last year was last year," McNamara said. "All the accolades were fantastic. But this is a new year with a new group, and it's their turn to achieve whatever they are capable of achieving."

Fordham Prep won its first CHSAA city championship in 16 years last fall, but the Rams bring back just four starters.

The rest of the squad will have to fill holes left by stalwarts such as Ryan Meara (now a goalkeeper at Fordham University), Mike Mazzullo (midfielder at Columbia) and top scorer Delfim Ferreira.

Fordham Prep has reached the CHSAA title game the last two years. Reaching a third straight city final will be a tall order this fall.

Senior Stefan Manz will start in goal this season, trying to fill in for Meara, who shut out St. Francis Prep in the 2007 city final.

Manz trained under Meara with the club team Yonkers United during the offseason, and says he learned to hold his own in goal.

"Playing with Ryan made me realize that I really loved what I did in goal," Manz said. "I'm playing with more of a passion because of him. How he talked to his teammates, how he got them going - most people don't get to see that, but he passed that on to me."

Senior Jeff Horn is a four-year starter, but he'll really step into the spotlight this fall as a top scoring threat along with Nihad Musovic, one of the high scorers on the Rams' junior varsity team in 2007.

Senior midfielder Ramsey Salem looks to bring the same ball-hawking intensity this season that made Mazzullo famous last fall.

"It's going to be a different atmosphere than last season," said Salem, a two-year starter. "A lot of the new players coming up bring something different to the team. I think we'll pull through just fine."

Fordham Prep has reached the state playoffs the last four years, including last year's trip to the 'A' semifinals, but the Rams will need the new parts to fit perfectly this fall if they hope to stretch the streak to five.

They also need to forget about last season, a message Manz repeated to his teammates shortly after McNamara's season-openening speech in August.

"I told them, 'We know last year is over, it means nothing now,'" Manz said. "'We have a lot to live up to, but this is our year to make a name for ourselves.'"

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