With one of the more ruthless high school soccer schedules in the country, second-ranked Gonzaga’s upcoming travel itinerary looks something like this: Within the next three weeks, the Eagles play nationally-acclaimed powers Regis (Colo.) and Rockhurst (Mo.) in Denver, and Delbarton and Don Boscoe in New Jersey.
But next Tuesday’s game against No. 1 DeMatha at Trinity Washington University may be the toughest road trip of the season for Gonzaga. The Stags have won 45 consecutive games dating back to the 2009 season – and are also the owners of a pair of 2-1 wins over Gonzaga last season.
Gonzaga Coach Scott Waller is comfortable with where his program is at, though. He’s now entering his eighth season at the helm for Gonzaga – which he tallies by the amount of Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships (seven) his team has played in. After winning four straight titles from 2006 to 2009, Gonzaga has lost the last two years to DeMatha, but the Eagles are still billed as one of the league’s most decorated programs.
“They’ve always been a rival,” Waller said. “We’ve been in the [WCAC] championship 12 straight years, and DeMatha hasn’t. We’ve beaten other teams there. We’ve beaten O’Connell, we’ve beaten Paul VI, we’ve beaten McNamara.”
Gonzaga certainly has the personnel to contend in the WCAC once again this season. Waller returns most of his starters, three of whom have already committed to Division I programs: All-Met Ian Harkes (Wake Forest), Nicko Corriveau (Virginia) and Conor Smith (Lehigh). Waller also expects junior defenseman Bruno Scodari to be a breakout player in 2012; Scodari returns to Gonzaga after spending last season in Bradenton, Florida with the U-17 national team.
“This is the first year that I’m really confident in our ability to score,” Waller said. “I don’t think we’ll get shut out this year.”
Gonzaga opened the season with a 2-0 victory over Penn Charter (Pa.) Monday. It was just the first test in a long line of challenges to come. For all the traveling and pressure that Gonzaga faces in the coming weeks, Waller is feeling at peace with his club on and off the field.
“Right now, I’d say it’s the best team I’ve ever coached, as in just fun to be around,” Waller said. “They’re really dedicated to win.”
DeMatha, which finished as The Post's top-ranked team in each of the past two seasons, hasn't lost since Nov. 1, 2009, a 1-0 defeat to Gonzaga. The two schools meet on Tuesday.... Watkins Mill is the defending Maryland 3A champion; Walter Johnson was the Maryland 4A runner-up last fall.
(Last year’s final record in parentheses)
1. DeMatha (21-0)
2. Gonzaga (12-4-2)
3. Watkins Mill (15-2)
4. Walter Johnson (17-1-1)
5. Paul VI Catholic (11-7)
6. Episcopal (12-6-3)
7. Marriotts Ridge (14-4-1)
8. Sidwell Friends (14-3-1)
9. Churchill (12-4-1)
10. High Point (13-3)