Drew Yates's passing ability and ball-control skills set him apart from other soccer players. They helped the senior earn a scholarship to the University of Maryland, and they were instrumental in the goal that propelled top-ranked DeMatha to a 4-1 win over No. 6 Gonzaga yesterday in a Washington Catholic Athletic Conference match at Trinity University.
With the score tied at 1 in the 60th minute, Yates dribbled his way through a group of defenders and sent a pass from the top of the penalty area to junior forward Nando Duran on the right wing. Duran took one touch and passed back to Yates, who buried a low shot from 10 yards past diving goalkeeper Paul Benkert.
"I've been playing for so long that [my passing] just comes natural," Yates said. "Being able to get out of tight spaces and everything, that just comes from work. Every day that I don't have high school, I'm going out and I'm working with the ball."
Yates's goal was the first of three in a 10-minute span for the Stags (6-0-0, 4-0-0). In a rematch of the last two WCAC championship games, the offensive outburst helped DeMatha extend its unbeaten streak to 30 games, dating from 2003.
"Whenever we pick up the tempo and we play how we can play . . . we can do that to any team in the country," Yates said. "We have that much talent that we can do that. It's just a matter of telling ourselves that we are going to do that."
The game's slow pace benefited Gonzaga (3-1-1, 3-1-0) for much of the first half and part of the second. The Stags, however, took control midway through the second half by utilizing their speed in the midfield and aggressively attacking the goal. DeMatha managed eight shots on goal in the final 20 minutes.
"DeMatha is a very fast team," Gonzaga Coach Scott Waller said. "When we slowed [the game] down we played well. We just couldn't take control of the tempo, and that hurt us today."
Stags Coach Dafydd Evans was particularly pleased with his team's defense, which limited Gonzaga to five shots.
"To be champions in the WCAC, you've got to beat your best rival three times," Evans said. "We've done it for two years, and it's going to be very difficult to do that again."