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Gonzaga tops DeMatha in penalty kicks for WCAC title, halting Stags 62-game unbeaten streak

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The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference boys’ soccer championship game was delayed just before kickoff on Sunday after officials told Gonzaga goalkeeper Ryan Massey that his jersey was too close in hue to top-ranked DeMatha’s blue uniforms. He changed to an orange uniform, and he instantly turned into a target for the talented Stags.

But in the most important game of his career, Massey didn’t crack, and neither did No. 2 Gonzaga. After two overtimes ended in a 1-1 deadlock, Massey had a decisive save in penalty kicks and the Eagles converted all five of their chances to win, 5-3, at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds.

Gonzaga (18-1-1) had traveled the country this fall, playing some of the best high school squads in the nation in places such as Colorado and New Jersey. But none of it mattered unless the Eagles could be the best in their own league. That validation came Sunday, as Coach Scott Waller’s club not only claimed the WCAC title but also snapped DeMatha’s 62-game unbeaten streak.

“DeMatha is a great team. We’ve known that all year,” said Waller. “It’s just a great game to win. A great game to play.”

Just as it was in the first matchup with DeMatha (16-1-1) — a 1-1 tie in September — Gonzaga was the aggressor for much of the evening. The Eagles pushed a number of crosses at the net in the first half, and the Stags didn’t have their first clean look at Massey until 17 minutes into the game.

Gonzaga made it 1-0 just seconds into the second half, as Conor Smith scored on an assist from Sean Griffith. That’s when things between the rivals began to get chippy, resulting in a number of minor scuffles throughout the second half, including a red card for Gonzaga’s Chase Gasper after he pushed a DeMatha player with about 20 minutes remaining. That left Gonzaga a man down, and the Stags capitalized, tying the game after Arion Assue nailed a 35-foot ball that beat Massey top-shelf.

Led by Assue and the talented Chris Odoi-Atsem, DeMatha continued its assault in the first and second overtimes — but Massey came up with three stops in that stretch and the Gonzaga defense held. In penalty kicks, Gonzaga led 1-0 after Nicholas Corriveau cashed in the first kick — and Massey baited a DeMatha player into shooting right on the next kick. The ball ricocheted off Massey’s gloves, and after Gonzaga went on to net its final four penalty kicks. After it was over, Massey took off his orange jersey and waved it in the air while celebrating with his teammates.

“This is a big stage,” said Massey. “The season was a long run, and it all built up to this one game. We knew we were a talented side, too. We were capable of ending DeMatha’s great run.”

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