Dafydd Evans won seven Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championships and finished undefeated five times titles during 13 seasons on DeMatha’s sideline. But once he left for a coaching job in his native Wales before the season, new boss Matt Brady brought a fresh routine.
“Practice, before the game, after the game, Coach Evans had his way of doing things, and everyone knew them,” senior midfielder Luca Fazio said. “We didn’t do the same things this year, a lot of things changed.”
Winning was not one of those things.
The Stags ripped off 11 straight victories to close the season with their third consecutive WCAC crown. DeMatha was ruthless in keeping possession to supply a balanced group of attackers that split 30 goals across its top four scorers.
“We were always dominating possession,” senior midfielder Dolph Hegewisch said. “But once we figured out how to find the goals, we didn’t lose.”
DeMatha started the season with three wins before drawing and losing on a road trip to play Delbarton and Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey. A week later, the Stags were shut out in a 1-0 loss to Gonzaga.
“We started slow. We hit a lull against some nationally-ranked opponents on the road, but we didn’t fully come together as a team until after that Gonzaga loss,” Hegewisch said. “That’s the one that made us realize we have to figure out how to start scoring or this season isn’t going to end how we want it to.”
Hegewisch did not score in DeMatha’s first seven games, but the senior scored 10 goals as the Stags took the Gonzaga defeat and won out. Sophomore Justin Gielen also found his scoring touch after the Stags’ only local loss with eight of his nine goals coming after the Stags were shutout in back-to-back games.
In the WCAC championship game, DeMatha got another shot at its archrival and prevailed in a 2-1 win thanks to Hegewisch’s second-half penalty kick.
“We had a new coach, and it took us some time to remember we’re still DeMatha,” Fazio said. “It’s not the best way to win a championship, but I’ll take the penalty. We’re happy to go out with three straight championships.”
For the first time since 1974, no local Maryland team brought home a state title. . . . Meade lost 1-0 in the 4A state final. . . . St. Albans won the Interstate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament as well as the D.C. State Athletic Association final, 2-1 in overtime over Washington International. . . . Blair fell in penalty kicks to Meade in the 4A semifinals. . . . Huntingtown lost its first game of the season, 2-1 in overtime to C. Milton Wright in the 3A semifinals. . . . Eleanor Roosevelt lost in the 4A semifinals to eventual champions Perry Hall. . . . Paul VI defeated O’Connell in penalty kicks in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association final. . . . La Plata fell in the Maryland 2A final.
1. DeMatha (14-2-1) Last ranked: 1
2. Meade (17-2) LR: 6
3. St. Albans (15-3-1) LR: NR
4. Blair (16-2) LR: 3
5. Huntingtown (18-1) LR: 2
6. Gonzaga (13-6-3) LR: 8
7. Eleanor Roosevelt (15-2-2) LR: NR
8. Paul VI (10-5-4) LR: NR
9. Washington International (19-2-1) LR: NR
10. La Plata (14-6) LR: NR