HOLLAND – Three soccer players highlighted a list of senior student-athletes who declared their college intentions during an Athlete Declaration Day ceremony held Friday morning, May 13 at Villa Joseph Marie Academy.
Midfielder Bridget Galen, of Holland, is staying close to home and will play this fall at Division I St. Joseph University. Last year in the state semifinal against Fleetwood, Galen scored the game’s only goal in double overtime, helping her team reach the state final for a second straight season.
Teammate Alyssa Dionisio, of Philadelphia, is also staying close and plans to continue her career on the pitch at Widener University.
“Alyssa was the greatest team player and hardest working player I ever had,” said long-time Villa Jo soccer coach Rich Finneyfrock. “She scored some of the most technically sound goals of any player at Villa.”
Meanwhile, Jems goalkeeper Gretchen Frantz, of Newtown, is headed to Naperville, Illinois where she will play between the pipes for the Cardinals at North Central College. Last year in states, against Northern York, Frantz made a key save in penalty kicks, helping the Jems advance to the quarterfinals.
“All three girls are quality people, both on and off the field,” added Finneyfrock. “I consider it an honor to be a small part of their lives. They are great team players and a pleasure to coach.”
The soccer trio was part of a Villa Jo team that made it all the way to the PIAA Class AA championship last fall. In 2015, the Jems went 18-5, completing their last campaign in a 1-0 loss to a Villa Maria Academy team (Erie) that went unbeaten (23-0-2) on the season. In the previous campaign, Villa Joseph took the Pennsylvania AA crown with a 1-0 win over the Victors.
Since 1993, the Jems have won 10 PIAA state titles, have lost just once in the past five years against Athletic Association of Catholic Academies (AACA) opponents and, last fall, captured their fifth straight PIAA District One Class AA title with a 1-0 win over Gwynedd Mercy Academy.
Three additional student-athletes from Villa Jo are taking their game to the next level including softball player Gina D’Andrea, of Bensalem, who is going to Stevenson University near Baltimore, and basketball player Francesca Bogiatzis, of Warminster, who is headed to Ursinus.
According to Jems basketball coach Maria Morano, Bogiatzis has good court sense and makes some amazing passes. She hit some key baskets during her high school career at Villa Jo, the coach added.
“Francesca is a true team player,” stated Morano. “On the court, she shares the ball. On and off the court, she constantly cheers on all her teammates.”
A senor co-captain, D’Andrea finished the season with a .345 batting average with a .500 on-base percentage.
“Gina has been a part of our team for the last four years and is a great player to coach,” said VJM softball coach Kate Ambrose. “She leads by example and is always willing to do whatever is asked of her.
“We are sad to see her leave but wish her all the best at Stevenson.”
Additionally, bowler Kira Altomari, of Ivyland, hopes to strike out at Chestnut Hill College.
“Her persistence, efforts and love of the game led to her to pursue bowling at the next level,” said VJM athletic director Becky Flynn Hensel. “Chestnut Hill College is lucky to have her.”
Before Altomari’s time at Villa Jo, the Jems didn’t offer athletic opportunities to bowlers at VJM. It is still not a PIAA sport at the school, but rather a club team. According to Flynn Hensel, Altomari and another student co-founded the bowling club a few years ago to satisfy the desire for athletic opportunities outside of the varsity sports that were offered at Villa Joseph.
2016 Villa Joseph Marie College Commits
Bridget Galen, St. Joseph University (Soccer)
Francesca Bogiatzis, Ursinus College (Basketball)
Gina D’Andrea, Stevenson University (Softball)
Alyssa Dionisio, Widener University (Soccer)
Gretchen Frantz, North Central College (Soccer)
Kira Altomari, Chestnut Hill College (Bowling)