Boys’ soccer: Top-ranked DeMatha weathers injuries


DeMatha's Sean Cowdrey (left, shown last year against Gonzaga) is one of several Stags who have been nursing injuries this fall. (Toni L. Sandys/WASHINGTON POST)
October 10, 2012

A 7-0 win over Bishop Ireton on Tuesday made DeMatha senior Sean Cowdrey realize the type of farm system that is in place inside the top-ranked Stags’ soccer program. It isn’t merely a junior varsity squad that in its own right is difficult to make during tryouts. It is a system that, in equal measure, revolves around developing depth and a respect for the mystique of the Stags’ program, which hasn’t lost a game in two years.

Cowdrey believes it was on full display against on Tuesday against the Cardinals. A handful of junior varsity players moved up and plugged holes for the ailing Stags (9-0-1), who are riddled with injuries across their starting lineup. And six different players scored — Cowdrey, Chris Odoi Atsem, Andrew Klotz, Christian Cooke and Julian Dove — in one of the more impressive performances of the year for DeMatha.

“Its been a process with such a young team. We haven’t been healthy in one game yet,” said DeMatha coach Dafydd Evans. “It’s been really developing.”

Cowdrey has been nursing an ankle injury for much of the season, and isn’t at full strength yet, although he played through it on Tuesday. Two of DeMatha’s top two players, senior Jonathan Ware and sophomore Nolan Axenfeld, have also been out of the lineup for long stretches during the season. Ware has played only one full game this fall, and Evans slowly brought him back against Bishop Ireton (4-6), while Axenfeld rested Tuesday in preparation for the final stretch of the regular season, a five-game slate that includes a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference showdown with No. 7 Paul VI Catholic (8-2) on October 19.

“We don’t overlook anyone. At all,” said Evans. “Paul VI will be very good. They will be a challenge, for. They’re loaded with seniors and talent.”


DeMatha’s Chris Odoi Atsem, shown here against Gonzaga, scored one of the Stags’ seven goals against Bishop Ireton on Tuesday. (Doug Kapustin/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

That sentiment was echoed by Cowdrey about his own club. Evans has developed a foundation strong enough at the Hyattsville school to be able to weather tough times at the varsity level, through injuries and transitions from season to season, Cowdrey said. That brilliance, Cowdrey insists, was in DeMatha’s high-profile wins over nationally-ranked sides Salesianum (Del.) and St. Anthony’s (N.Y.) earlier this month, 2-0 and 1-0 decisions, respectively.

“As it’s progressed, we’ve gotten a lot stronger. It says a lot about our backline and how we’ve kept things in order,” Cowdrey said of the shutout wins. “ We’ve had underclassmen that have been able to step up.”

The Post Top 10

Paul VI Catholic, which lost to Good Counsel 2-0 on Tuesday, hosts Gonzaga on Friday. ... Walter Johnson won its Montgomery 4A South showdown with Wootton last Friday, 1-0, on a goal from Jeremy Ebobisse. ... St. Albans re-enters the rankings after wins over Bullis, Landon and Georgetown Prep. Arjan Ganji and Michael Sniezek scored for the Saints against the Little Hoyas, and Luke Duffy had four saves, pushing his season total to 45.

(Records through Tuesday.)

1. DeMatha (9-0-1) Last week: 1

2. Gonzaga (10-1-1) LW: 2

3. Walter Johnson (9-0) LW: 3

4. Marriotts Ridge (9-0) LW: 7

5. Severna Park (11-0) LW: 8

6. Centennial (9-0) LW: 9

7. Paul VI Catholic (8-2) LW: 5

8. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (11-2-1) LW: 6

9. Wootton (8-1-1) LW: 4

10. St. Albans (9-1-1) LW: NR

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