BATAVIA – Before the start of Thursday’s Upstate Eight Conference River Division soccer match between St. Charles East and Batavia, the PA announcer told the crowd he’d been cautioned to correctly pronounce DiLeonardi, the last name of a pair of Saints.
He got plenty of practice at saying the name before the night was over.
Evan DiLeonardi scored the first goal and his older brother, Daniel, added two more as East (2-0) rolled to a 5-0 victory.
Evan, a sophomore, put the Saints on the board midway through the first half on a header off a corner kick.
“It was a really good ball by Jacob Sterling,” Evan said. “He put it right on the six [yard-line]. I just headed it in.”
Exactly three minutes later, the elder DiLeonardi buried a shot into the upper left corner of the net after a defensive lap by the Bulldogs (0-2).
“My teammates had crashed on the previous long throw, so I decided to sit on top of the box and hope for [the ball] to come out,” Daniel said. “It came out and I got a nice, kind of lucky finish that went in the top corner.”
Miscues by his defenders in the box was a source of frustration all night for Batavia coach Mark Gianfrancesco.
“We’ve got to clear the ball,” he said. “The first one was a corner; we weren’t holding our mark. They were just free. The second one, cleared it right to the top of the box. Third one, ricochet, misclear, just three guys waiting in front and they bang it in.”
That third goal was scored two minutes into the second half by Tyler Robbins.
Daniel DiLeonardi made it 4-0 with 25 minutes left, scoring after the ball caromed off a post.
“I had just been moved to right mid[field], so I was out wide,” Daniel said. “I saw Tyler shoot and I saw it trickle in toward the post. It hit the post and bounced back out and I just curved my run enough to tap it in.”
Daniel, a senior, almost had a hat trick. Less than two minutes before his second goal, Batavia keeper Kevin Fiddelke made a save of a DiLeonardi shot at near point-blank range.
“My brother won the ball in the midfield and played a quick outlet pass to me,” Daniel said. “I brought it upfield, cut in and got a nice shot off. The keeper made a nice save on it.”
It might seem natural the DiLeonardi brothers would make such connections on the soccer field as a matter of routine, but the duo have rarely played together on the same field.
“It’s new,” Evan said. “I’ve played on the same clubs and in the yard with him my whole life, but not like with him on the same team. It’s getting better, I guess. It was kind of stressful at first.”
The younger DiLeonardi said that’s because of the high expectations of his sibling. After a highly successful 2012 campaign, all of the Saints have high expectations for the current season, and coach Paul Jennison still found plenty of room for improvement after the easy win.
“I thought, in all fairness, the first 10 minutes, Batavia was the better team,” Jennison said. “They were playing one-touch stuff on top and they were moving the ball a lot better than we were. … The first 10 minutes we did the exact opposite of everything we talked about going into the game.”
Sam Shelton added a late goal for the Saints and keeper Mike Novotny made a solid save on a free kick with four seconds left to preserve the clean sheet.