Suliaman Dainkeh gets rest, ready to lead South Lakes on postseason run

Suliaman Dainkeh received a night off in South Lakes’ 1-0 overtime win against Langley in the regular season finale Wednesday. Having clinched the AAA Liberty District regular season title last week against Fairfax – Dainkeh tweaked a hamstring – and he wasn’t taking any chances in a game that would have little effect on the team’s postseason standing.

Still, No. 2 South Lakes played hungry – winning its 12th straight game – and Dainkeh’s presence was felt. He wore a Maryland zip up, paying homage to the school he will play for next year, and helped coach his teammates all night long as they played through sloppy conditions. After the contest, Dainkeh looked rested – but also a little disappointed that he missed an opportunity to play in the mud with the rest of the boys.

“Just wanted to make sure not to risk it,” Dainkeh said. “It’s a good confidence booster. We know that we’re probably going to see (Langley) in the semis or finals, and I think this is the first time, I think, that we’ve beat them since I’ve been here.” It was senior night at South Lakes, which has had a special year. Since opening the season with a humbling 2-0 loss to T.C. Williams, the Seahawks (12-1) have won every game, four of which have gone to overtime.

South Lakes has won five games by just one goal, and it is not a prolific scoring team (20 goals in 13 games, the team’s leading scorer Dylan Katz has five) – but it has a strong defensive identity and solid players in the midfield. That’s where Dainkeh lurks, and although his numbers haven’t been overwhelming (three goals), he has made plays in important moments – such as last week in a 2-0 win over Madison, when he scored three minutes into the game to set the tone in a key district contest.

Dainkeh, a first team All-Met a year ago, has been a model of durability for the rest of the roster. He’s come along way. As all the seniors were introduced before the game Wednesday, each had a “most memorable moment “ read aloud by the announcer; most were game-winning goals by players. Dainkeh’s was an own goal he scored his freshman year, on senior night nonetheless.

“It was a great learning experience,” the announcer read to the crowd. “When that happened to me, I was the one that scored on (the goalie), I just broke down,” Dainkeh said.

Dainkeh is now one of the area’s best players with a full-ride to one of the most prestigious soccer schools in the country next season. He will play when the district playoffs commence next week, fully rested and eager to atone for South Lakes’ postseason exit last year – a loss in penalty kicks to Lake Braddock in the AAA Northern Region quarterfinals.

“Sometimes we can be a little naïve, I guess. We still have a lot of underclassmen on the team,” Dainkeh said. “But we can play with anybody, really.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 43-4

The margin of runs scored in three straight wins for Bethesda-Chevy Chase’s baseball team since losing 8-7 to Quince Orchard last Wednesday. The Barons won 23-0 Wednesday against Watkins Mill, where five different players had at least two RBIs, led by Andrew Brilliant’s four.

BREAKFAST LINKS

– Princeton Day guard Jerron Martin committed to Ole Miss on Wednesday, just a few days after visiting the campus in Oxford.

– After transferring from Avalon to Quince Orchard this spring, sophomore defensive tackle Adam McLean has continued to watch his recruiting stock rise, as N.C. State became the latest suitor Wednesday.

WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
Washington Catholic Athletic Conference lacrosse semifinal: DeMatha at Paul VI, 4 p.m.
The Panthers won this matchup two weeks ago in thrilling fashion, prevailing 10-9 in overtime on a Logan Aunon game-winning goal. It will be the second time in a week that DeMatha can earn redemption. Just five days after Good Counsel beat DeMatha 6-3, the Stags handled the Falcons 10-3 in the WCAC quarterfinals Tuesday.

Have a high school sports question? Start a new thread in our forums and I’ll do my best to weigh in. (Click on ‘New Topic‘ to start your thread.)

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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