Jonah Gigli didn’t know how to feel. The Wilson junior had just converted the decisive penalty kick to secure the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association boys’ soccer championship following a thrilling 2-2 overtime battle with Bell on Saturday at McKinley. But after being mobbed by his jubilant teammates, Gigli could barely move, needing two trainers to help him up off the cold turf.
As Gigli gingerly walked back toward midfield, though, he cracked a smile, telling his team to make way for him to join the celebration. No pain could override the joy of being a champion.
“After I made the goal, I was running with the guys and then I got pushed forward and like seven people came down on me, so here I am, I’m hurt but I’m so excited,” said Gigli, whose team held a 4-2 advantage in penalty kicks. “I’ll be all right. This is just an incredible moment.”
Saturday proved equally incredible for the Wilson girls’ team, which held off School Without Walls in a 4-2 contest to win its fourth straight DCIAA title.
Gigli’s penalty kick helped Wilson (13-3-3) exact revenge after falling to Bell in the last two championship games, with the Griffins prevailing on penalty kicks last year.
The Tigers took a 2-1 lead on a Jonathan Hernandez penalty kick at the 62nd minute mark of regulation, but five minutes later, the Griffins evened the score on a 40-yard laser shot by Juan Delcid. Two scoreless overtime periods set up the penalty kick session, which began with Bell and Wilson each nailing their first two attempts. However, Bell’s next two shots sailed wide left while Wilson’s Liam Walsh scored, setting up Gigli’s triumphant moment.
“I knew the whole time that I was going to shoot it right,” Gigli said. “After I kicked it, I just started running. It’s still all a blur but I guess I knew it was good. I just felt it.”
On the girls’ side, Wilson’s plan was to strike within the first five minutes. Isabel Albee did the Tigers (13-4) one better, blasting a direct kick from 35 yards out into the back of the net to give Wilson a 1-0 lead just 25 seconds into the game. Wilson remained on the attack for the rest of the first half, recording 16 shots on goal while holding School Without Walls to none.
“We wanted to be aggressive from the start, so I was aiming for the goal on that kick and just hoping to get it over the keeper’s head,” said Albee, who finishes her career with four DCIAA titles. “From there, we just wanted to keep sending crosses and keep attacking.”
Wilson went up 2-0 just before halftime on sophomore Camryn Mackey’s 21st goal of the season, but the Penguins woke up soon thereafter. Molly Charles cut the deficit to one when she got behind the Tiger defense for a score in the 66th minute. The Tigers answered right back, though, as a Laniyyah Elam goal was followed by Albee’s second score of the night, providing Wilson with the necessary cushion to extend its dynasty.