“We emphasize strong team defense,” Washington-Liberty Coach Matt Seney said. “In the defensive zone, our team protected the house really good.”
The Generals (10-3) won their second championship in three seasons, thanks in large part to a dominant defense in the postseason. They limited Forest Park/Hylton to 13 shots on goal in the quarterfinals, then held Bishop Ireton to nine shot attempts in the semifinals.
West Potomac (11-2), which scored more goals in the first period than anyone in the CSHL, was scoreless in this opening session. Washington-Liberty forced difficult shot attempts, and junior goalie Anders Nelson made timely saves.
The Wolverines did strike first: Senior Grant Gustafson scored on a penalty shot early in the second period. But Washington-Liberty, which relied on its depth this season, responded with unanswered goals by four players. Junior captain Kyle Wilson finished the night with the final two goals.
During the early minutes of the third period, Wilson noticed West Potomac looked fatigued. Wilson, who was named first-team all-conference, zoomed down the ice and shook off a Wolverines defender before pushing the puck into the net to extend the Generals’ lead to 4-1. It sucked the energy out of the socially distanced West Potomac crowd. Then, on a breakaway in the final two minutes, Wilson drove the puck past West Potomac goalie Joseph McDonnell for the exclamation point.
“Kyle is a phenomenal player,” Seney said. “He makes big goals at big times, but he also does a lot of other things throughout the game to help us be successful.”
For Seney, this season has been about providing an outlet for his players. After long months wondering whether a season was going to happen, Seney figures the opportunity for players do something they love was just as important as winning the championship.
When Wilson skated around the ice with the championship trophy, the feeling, he said, was even more special than when his team won the title two seasons ago.
“This is almost exactly a year after everything got shut down,” Wilson said. “It’s been incredible to win something with this group of guys in a year that’s been so crazy and depressing for a lot of reasons.”