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Wood Flips Over Filippo

By John Knebels, 11/01/16, 2:15PM EDT


PHILADELPHIA- For the rest of her life, Sofia Filippo will think back to ‘that moment.’ To say it will be forever entrenched somewhere in her memory bank is mitigating the impact.

When she embarks on a long drive by herself, music blaring, air conditioner humming, she will flash back to ‘that moment.’ During her collegiate days at St. Joseph’s University . . . when she reminisces about her high school days at various reunions . . . when she meets new friends . . . starts a family . . . gets older and wiser . . . maybe becomes a grandmom . . . maybe even a great grandmom . . . she will continue to embrace ‘that moment.’

By now, most local high school sports fan realizes what ‘that moment’ refers to, but hey, just cue the music and slow motion reel anyway.

‘That moment’ occurred at precisely 4:24 PM, Saturday, October 29, at South Philadelphia’s Super Site Complex. With the Catholic League girls’ soccer championship between Archbishop Wood and Lansdale Catholic tied at 1-1 early in overtime, Filippo stationed herself in front of her opponent’s net. Surrounded by a sea of humanity, she watched as senior teammate Kylie Menarde, one of her closest friends since about the age of nine, perfectly arched a corner kick that headed directly into the anticipatory crowd of athletes.

As the ball descended from the sky, someone from Lansdale Catholic’s sideline uttered, “Oh no.” It was for good reason.

With a flick of her head – from right to left – Filippo redirected Menarde’s pass into the open net. For a mega-brief second, total silence, and then the ubiquitous reaction – screaming hysteria, growing tiers of sprawled bodies.

Game Winning Goal (video John Knebels)

Wood junior Kasey McCormick fell down en route to the impromptu party on the ground; Filippo, for some reason still standing, immediately pulled her teammate to her feet. Helping out a person in distress instead of joining a jovial shindig a few feet away. . . Filippo clearly has her priorities straight.

“I didn’t watch the ball go in, but I saw it hit the net,” said Filippo. “I was the happiest person ever. I can’t imagine ever having a happier feeling.”

Sofia Filippo talks about that unforgetable moment

Kylie Menarde (left) & Sofia Filippo after PCL Title Win (photo John Knebels)

When she was a freshman, Filippo offered a similar sentiment after she scored a fluky goal in sudden-death overtime to beat league dynamo Archbishop Ryan. She would eventually score 14 goals as a freshman, then 16 as a sophomore, and 16 as a junior. Incredibly, the championship overtime goal supplied her with a personal-best 17 goals, a figure that may increase as the Vikings play in districts (on November 2) and states.

Recently named a first-team All Catholic for the third straight season, it is difficult to imagine Filippo supplying a more important contribution to the Vikings, a perennial winner that lost to Archbishop Ryan in the finals in both 2013 and 2014, and to Lansdale Catholic in last year’s semifinals.

“The big thing is getting over the hump and winning the championship,” said Filippo. “Being the one to score the goal is indescribable. We worked so hard for this.”

Menarde said that being a teammate with Filippo “has been the best experience and I honestly couldn’t ask for a better friend and teammate over the past 10 years that I’ve know her. Her scoring the goal was a perfect moment and something we have dreamed of since freshman year.”

Wood coach Bill Cappo applauded his entire team for its constant improvement, necessitated by a slow start back in September. Cappo said it was fitting that so many players paid enormous dividends while delivering Wood’s 14th-ever Catholic League title in its 27th championship game since the program’s inception in 1981.

Aside from Menarde and Filippo’s exquisite overtime execution, Wood’s defense and sophomore goalie Molly Fleming withstood a flurry of regular-season champion Lansdale Catholic’s scoring chances in the second half. Behind 1-0 on a first-half goal by LC sophomore Sarah Fitzpatrick, Wood sophomore Leah Brzezicki tied the game on a penalty kick a few minutes later.

Wood Receives Championship Plaque (video John Knebels)

“They are all playing well,” said Cappo. “A lot has to happen to win a championship. They relied on each other and did a great job.”

But it all came down to Filippo using her head – literally.

Among the onlookers were all but one of Filippo’s family, which includes nine children (five girls followed by four boys) to parents Jennifer and Ron. Mom, nee Beisel, is a former standout basketball player at St. Hubert and Villanova. Dad played baseball at both Father Judge and Drexel.

While oldest sister Hunter, a LaSalle University junior, had a soccer game in Pittsburgh, the rest of the crew – Wood junior Francesca; freshman junior varsity soccer player Genevieve; Doylestown’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel parochial schoolers Gioia (seventh grade), Roman (sixth), Jameson (fifth), and Benjamin (pre-school); and three-year-old Noah – rooted for Wood’s number 21 en masse.

“It’s even more special having the family there,” said Filippo. “Really, I’m not sure that the game could have gone any better. We will always look back at this and feel happy.”

Precisely what ‘that moment’ is all about – and always will be.


(John Knebels can be reached at or by Twitter @johnknebels.)