Seniors propel Damascus to 2-0 win over Walter Johnson

Damascus senior captain Danielle Fernandez was a vocal leader throughout Wednesday’s home game against Walter Johnson, organizing her team’s defense with loud instruction.

She spoke loudest, however, with her own foot with a little more than 26 minutes remaining in a scoreless game. Fernandez lined up a free kick from outside the box and floated it just over the Wildcats’ keeper’s hand for the go-ahead goal with 26 minutes 30 seconds to play as Damascus extended a five-game winning streak to open its season.

“I’ve hit so many free kicks that have gone over. . . . I was like I have to place this, I have to finesse it in. Thankfully I hit it just right,” Fernandez said. “I’ve been really wanting to score, that will probably be one of the highlights of my senior year.”

That goal, and the one freshman Sammi Martinez scored 10 minutes later, propelled the 3A Hornets to a 2-0 win over Walter Johnson their second win over a Montgomery County 4A South division power in three days. The first came Monday, a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over No. 7 Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

Asked if her team thought they would be coming out of this week undefeated, senior keeper Jenna Kaufman — who held the Wildcats (2-1) off the board for her team’s third shutout in five games — said “we were optimistic.”

Fernandez and Kaufman are just part of a eight-player senior class that Coach Katie Chapman calls “special,” and includes the teams two leading scorers, Katie Kirschenmann (six goals) and Steph Cox (five), who hit the crossbar with a shot in the first half of Wednesday night’s game. Fellow seniors Amanda Amankwa, Julia Doody, and Annika Leiby each created several chances Wednesday, while defender Marisa Brisbane helped anchor the back line with Fernandez, who admits her direction from the back has matured.

“It has gotten a lot better — before it seemed . . . a little bit more angry,” Fernandez said.

“It’s a lot more instructive,” Kaufman said. “ [Organizing] is definitely her role, it really helps me.”

The Hornets’ hot start is due in no small part to their chemistry.

“I’ve never been on a team where we all get along so well,” Kaufman said. “We’ve all been friends since freshman year. . . . It takes some of the stress out of it, playing with your best friends.”

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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