Gonzaga Boys Soccer Ends Unbeaten ‘Unreal’ Campaign With DCSAA Title
After three long months of football, the Eagles ended the program’s first unbeaten season in more than two decades by beating Washington International 1-0 in the DC State Athletic Association championship game.
“After winning number one, would I have thought it possible? Hell no,” Eagles coach Scott Waller said as he watched his players dance for the trophy. “We always know that the schedule will be tough. I would have thought there was no way we would remain undefeated; That’s not possible anymore. So be here and do it? It’s unreal.”
Prior to this tournament, the Eagles (25-0-1) and Red Devils (17-1-1) were doing business in their respective corners of private school football. Gonzaga struggled all previous season with Bishop McNamara at the helm of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference beating the Mustangs in overtime in last week’s championship game. Washington International remained largely untouched in the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference, winning league games by an average of five goals.
But the PVAC doesn’t have the national reputation for athletics that the WCAC does. Sunday was an opportunity for the Red Devils to prove they could compete with one of the most famous programs in the area. In a scoreless first half on Sunday, Gonzaga created more chances but Washington International kept their composure and threatened on the break.
Gonzaga flexed his muscles in the second half, controlling possession and scoring a breakthrough after 10 minutes.
After a Gonzaga corner, senior midfielder Kevin Coffey got the ball on the wing just outside the box. Instead of crossing it back in, Coffey gave his man a fake and charged hard at the gate. The defender, now a step behind him, lunged at Coffey and knocked him down in the box. The Eagles were awarded a penalty and senior Colin Prendergast stepped in and had a game-changing chance.
He stared at the ball in silence for a few moments, then buried the shot and fired it to the right of the falling keeper. From there, a Gonzaga team that has ridden strong defenses all year seemed very comfortable defending a lead.
Goaltender Thomas McKinnon was named MVP and showered with chants from his teammates. The senior will only be remembered as one of the heroes in a team full of them in future talks of Gonzaga football.
“This is a special group of kids who just got together to play their favorite sport,” McKinnon said. “It’s incredible what we’ve done together.”
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