Boys' Soccer: Episcopal makes it back-to-back state titles
Although the Virginia public schools won't play soccer until the spring, the Old Dominion's private schools do play -- and their "state" championship, known as the Virginia Independent Schools championship, concluded last week with Episcopal High School of Alexandria capturing its second consecutive VIS title.
Playing in a steady wind and misting rain against Collegiate School of Richmond, Episcopal overcame a 2-0 deficit, tied the game late in regulation time, and won the contest in penalty kicks, 4-2. The win capped off a stellar season for the Maroon, who set a school record for shutouts (15), finished 18-0-3, and remained unbeaten over the past two seasons (45 games). During that span, Episcopal is 42-0-3.
"With all of the uncertainty facing our team after graduating so much talent and losing Schillo Tshuma to injury this past August, the team demonstrated tremendous resiliency," said Episcopal Coach Rick Wilcox "They always played the game the right way—aggressively, but with great sportsmanship. More than anything, they stuck together with a collective will to win, no matter who was on the field."
In the championship match, Collegiate scored in the 39th minute, then caught Episcopal in some poor corner kick marking less than a minute and scored a second goal. The goals came on Collegiate's second and third shots of the game.
But Episcopal fought back in the second half, outshooting Collegiate 13 shots to 3 over the final 40 minutes and overtime -- and finally found the net in the 64th minute on a header by senior David Kagulu-Kalema, who was playing forward (instead of his usual defense position) for the first time since the ninth grade. Senior Alex Smith got the equalizer for Episcopal later in the half, blasting a 28-yard free kick into the top left corner.
After a scoreless overtime period, Maroon goalie Bennett Jones made two critical stops in the penalty kick shootout, one low and the other high. Meantime, Episcopal scored on all of its chances, clinching the game on Smith's goal as the fourth shooter.
Smith was named Virginia co-state Player of the Year (along with Collegiate's Michael Howard), and Jones, Kagulu-Kalema and Dominique Badji were named first team All-State.
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