St. Albans forward Zach Velli’s first shot Thursday afternoon in the Interstate Athletic Conference soccer championship game was blocked, continuing the Bulldogs’ scoreless run against Georgetown Prep that had already included the teams’ first two meetings of the season.
Midway through the first half, however, Velli ended that streak. Midfielder Harry Moore sent a cross into the box that Velli fired on goal, but Georgetown Prep’s goalkeeper denied him. But the junior forward controlled his own rebound and sent the ball home, flipping the narrative of a tense matchup and springing St. Albans to a 2-0 win.
“I thought I hit it well, and it bounced back off and I just reacted,” Velli said. “It got the team going and set us up for the victory.”
Georgetown Prep (14-2-2), the IAC’s regular season champion, had looked strong against conference opponents all year, its only loss coming to Washington Catholic Athletic Conference foe Gonzaga. The Little Hoyas beat St. Albans, 2-0, on Oct. 5 and played St. Albans (12-4-3) to a scoreless draw last week.
“If we did that three-game series over again, we’d probably get the same results,” Bulldogs Coach Brian Schultz said. “I told our guys before the game that it’s going to come down to whichever team makes one or two more plays. This is my fourth year, and every single game we’ve played against them has been a nail-biter and a physical game.”
The Bulldogs’ second big play came right after halftime, when their 1-0 lead spurred aggressive play. They got early corner kicks, and senior center back Ezana Belay finished one for a 2-0 advantage.
“It was a perfect ball in,” Belay said. “It went right through the goalie, and all I had to do was get a touch on it.”
With one trophy already in hand, the Bulldogs will play in the D.C. State Athletic Association playoffs, facing public, private and charter schools from the city.
“I told them at the beginning of the year that if I could see them putting in that effort, the wins and losses don’t matter,” Schultz said. “But I also told them that if they do put in the effort, the results will come.”
A second-half goal by senior forward Colin Jones lifted Maret over St. Andrew’s, 2-1, for the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship.
Senior forward Maverick McGann gave the Frogs a 1-0 lead, but the Lions leveled things right before halftime. Maret Coach Mohan Telfer said that, even though Maret had beaten St. Andrew’s twice in the regular season, the Lions were “ready for us.”
“Once we conceded that goal, it really woke us up,” Telfer said. “We used halftime to regroup and come out and win.”
Wilson won its third straight District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association championship by defeating top-seeded Bell, 3-0, at Dunbar.
The Tigers, who lost, 2-0, to Bell in the teams’ only other meeting, scored all three of their goals in the first half.
Next week, the Tigers will join IAC champion St. Albans and other D.C. schools in the DCSAA bracket.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misidentified the St. Alban’s player who assisted on the team’s first goal.