The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Soccer state champ Yorktown challenges itself; a softball superstar gets more dominant

Spring sports notes

Yorktown’s Moira Flynn, shown during last year’s Virginia Class 6 state championship match against Kellam. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
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The Yorktown Patriots don’t often lose. The Arlington girls’ soccer program won two of the past three Virginia Class 6 titles and dropped a total of three matches in that span.

That record does not stem from an easy schedule. Coach Hannah Davis likes to test her team early, and this spring it started with back-to-back matches against Class 6 powers South County and Oakton.

“I like having those types of matches early because it tests the team, it maybe brings a few egos down a bit and it shows us where the holes are,” Davis said.

Yorktown beat the Stallions, 3-0, to open the year, but a loss to the Cougars taught the Patriots something about themselves. After a scoreless first half, the match turned shortly after the break as Yorktown’s goalie was shown a straight red card. The backup keeper is hurt, so the Patriots put a field player in the net and steeled themselves for a half-hour.

“It was really interesting to watch,” Davis said. “The girls were shocked, and then they were frustrated and angry. But it was still a 0-0 game at that point, so we switched our formation and they put together the best 20 minutes of soccer I’ve seen from them this year. It was so cool to see the way they rallied.”

The adversity didn’t end there. The Patriots managed to create several scoring opportunities but couldn’t get on the board. With less than two minutes remaining, Yorktown conceded a goal and fell, 1-0.

“It would have been awesome to come out with a tie,” Davis said. “But regardless, a match like that builds so much character. I want them to face challenges and feel what it’s like to lose early in the season. We can use that.”

— Michael Errigo


Katie Kutz has been the starting pitcher in each of Bishop O’Connell’s first three games. As of Monday, she had yet to allow a hit.

The senior ace, who took home All-Met Player of the Year honors last season, has found a new level to her game in her final season with the Knights, Coach Suzy Willemssen said.

Kutz threw no-hitters in her first two outings — a 19-0 win over John Paul the Great and a 9-0 win over Central Virginia HomeSchool — before downing three more batters in one inning against Halifax Academy later that day. She also smacked two home runs in the Knights’ season opener and is 11 for 14 at the plate.

“Nothing with Katie surprises me.” Willemssen said.

Willemssen lauded Kutz’s attention to detail throughout the offseason, a focus that has helped the pitcher as she hopes to improve on a 235-strikeout performance from last season. Kutz’s dominance last year resulted in Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association titles for O’Connell.

Kutz is focused on tailoring her game for the college level, Willemssen said, as she prepares to make the leap to Oklahoma State in the fall.

“What she invests to become her best and be there for her teammates is just phenomenal, and she’s kicked it up even another notch,” Willemssen said.

— Noah Ferguson


Glenelg’s girls always enter the season expecting to contend for the Maryland 2A state title. The program’s past warrants that ambition — the five-time champs won three straight from 2016 to 2018.

But Coach Alex Pagnotta knows his players’ ability alone will not be enough. The past two seasons, when previously undefeated squads lost to Century in the playoffs, have shown that.

“It’s not just about talent. … We missed out on some of that luck last year and the year before,” he said. “… Things just didn’t fall our way.”

The Gladiators graduated 14 players and enter this season with a smaller senior class. The youth creates uncertainty. Pagnotta said his group “could evolve to be a very, very good team.”

Despite having strong pieces, the Gladiators are not there yet. They’re trying to find small wins along the way to spark the evolution Pagnotta described.

Glenelg’s four preseason scrimmages showed the team’s flaws but also its capacity for growth.

The Gladiators clustered around the eight-meter mark in the first two, exhibiting poor spacing that often comes from inexperience, Pagnotta said. But those issues lessened as the games went on and as they learned from film and practice.

“It’s a work in progress. It’s a huge jigsaw puzzle this year, but the pieces are there,” Pagnotta said.

— Varun Shankar

Track and field

The D.C. area boasts some of the country’s best track and field athletes — “as much talent as Florida, California,” DeMatha Coach Buddy Crutchfield said. As a new season begins, here are some names to watch.

In Maryland, the Northern and Severna Park boys look to stay competitive after winning indoor state titles. Oakland Mills is looking for its fifth boys’ title and third girls’ championship in the past two years, with the girls led by senior hurdler Oluwasemilore Olakunle.

In D.C., McKinley Tech sprinter Ayotunde Ejiko could be a force on the boys’ side, and Dunbar jumper Kymia Bridgett is a standout among the girls. Both schools won indoor titles and have deep rosters.

As for the private schools, Archbishop Carroll, which has sprinter Nyckoles Harbor and long jumper Drew Dillard, and St. John’s (Meredith Gotzman, distance runner) will battle for the top position. Bullis has standouts in freshman Quincy Wilson, a national champion, and Myla Greene. St. Andrew’s senior Tinoda Matsatsa won an indoor national title in the 800 meters.

The West Springfield boys won the competitive Virginia Class 6 meet. South County and Robinson are also strong, and Virginia has several top pole vaulters.

“The DMV has some of the nation’s best competition,” said Shane King, a Maryland state champion sprinter for Oakland Mills. “I didn’t become the sprinter I am today because the competition I run against is light during the season.”

— Ian Decker