“I love them so much, so seeing them run at me with smiles was just the best feeling,” Morris said after her team prevailed, 5-3, on penalty kicks after overtime ended in a 4-4 draw.
The match vacillated between an electric goalfest and a gritty, defensive battle. At one point in the second half, there were three goals in about two minutes. That sequence, highlighted by two impressive goals by Sidwell defender Lila Brown, gave the No. 1 Quakers (16-2-1) a 4-3 lead with less than 20 minutes remaining.
But with seven minutes left, Morris, a Clemson commit, knocked a cross down into open space in front of the net. From there, it was a race between her and a defender to see who could get a foot on it. Morris won, then tied the match.
Overtime was fitful for both fan bases, but a pair of freshman goalkeepers — Sidwell’s Helen Primis and Shelby Pollard of St. John’s — provided highlight saves. That led to penalty kicks, where Morris gave St. John’s (13-3-2) its second state title in three seasons.
Before penalty kicks, Coach Allison Diaz told her Cadets that they had earned the moment.
“Don’t let them take this away from you. This is your chance to earn it,” she said. “You just have to pick your side and commit.”
Gonzaga doubles up
Gonzaga crowded around the DCSAA boys’ championship trophy, with some players holding up one finger and others displaying two.
Both were appropriate. Gonzaga certainly was the No. 1 team after beating Sidwell Friends, 3-0, in Sunday’s final. But this was also the second time in eight days that the No. 7 Eagles gathered around some hardware for pictures.
On Nov. 3, they captured the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title with a come-from-behind, 2-1 win over Good Counsel. The idea that this team could lift not one but two trophies in the postseason seemed improbable not long ago. Following a scoreless draw with St. Mary’s Ryken on Oct. 1, the Eagles were 2-5-5.
After that, Gonzaga was 12-1-1. The victory over Sidwell was its seventh in a row.
“It was a confidence thing,” senior Ryan Elie said. “Beginning of the season, we didn’t have it. But a switch flipped. We’ve been able to put it together.”
They got on the board 15 minutes into Sunday’s final thanks to Elie, who also provided the game-tying goal and game-winning assist in the WCAC final.
“He scores goals that are just beautiful to watch,” Coach Scott Waller said.
Sidwell Friends (17-3-2) created some chances early in the second half, but junior midfielder Gianluca Sacco gave Gonzaga some breathing room with a beautiful goal. From there, Gonzaga locked down on defense, and Elie polished it off with his second goal.
In the final minutes, Gonzaga looked like a team that knows how to close a match. It took a turnaround to get there, but the Eagles left no doubt on the season’s final day.