Gonzaga crowded around the DCSAA boys’ championship trophy, with some players holding up one finger and others displaying two.
Both were appropriate. Gonzaga certainly was the No. 1 team after beating Sidwell Friends, 3-0, in Sunday’s final. But this was also the second time in eight days that the No. 7 Eagles gathered around some hardware for pictures.
On Nov. 3, they captured the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title with a come-from-behind, 2-1 win over Good Counsel. The idea that this team could lift not one but two trophies in the postseason seemed improbable not long ago. Following a scoreless draw with St. Mary’s Ryken on Oct. 1, the Eagles were 2-5-5.
After that, Gonzaga was 12-1-1. The victory over Sidwell was its seventh in a row.
“It was a confidence thing,” senior Ryan Elie said. “Beginning of the season, we didn’t have it. But a switch flipped. We’ve been able to put it together.”
They got on the board 15 minutes into Sunday’s final thanks to Elie, who also provided the game-tying goal and game-winning assist in the WCAC final.
“He scores goals that are just beautiful to watch,” Coach Scott Waller said.
Sidwell Friends (17-3-2) created some chances early in the second half, but junior midfielder Gianluca Sacco gave Gonzaga some breathing room with a beautiful goal. From there, Gonzaga locked down on defense, and Elie polished it off with his second goal.
In the final minutes, Gonzaga looked like a team that knows how to close a match. It took a turnaround to get there, but the Eagles left no doubt on the season’s final day.
When the last soccer ball that Makenna Morris would ever kick for the St. John’s Cadets slipped to the left of the desperate Sidwell Friends goalkeeper and sneaked into the net, the senior forward turned toward midfield and waited for the mob.
Morris’s penalty kick Sunday at Catholic University gave the Cadets a storybook ending to their season and a victory over Sidwell Friends in the D.C. State Athletic Association final. And then it was time for her to get tackled by some joyous teammates.
When the St. John’s Cadets completed their second of two double-digit point comebacks Saturday, they lined up in the victory formation and sent Rakim Jarrett, the five-star prospect who played both ways to defeat Gonzaga, 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage to be the last line of defense against disaster.
Quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava took a knee, and Jarrett started to dance when the 32-28 win was complete.
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