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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

Gonzaga’s soccer season begins with heavy restrictions

The 2019-20 varsity soccer team posing with their DC state championship banner after defeating Sidwelll Friends 3-0. (Photo by Susan Cowley)

Gonzaga soccer finally returned on March 2 with the Eagles tying DeMatha Catholic High School 2-2 in the first match of the season. The game was a thriller, with DeMatha scoring off of the crossbar in the last minute to steal a draw. Junior Brendan Pauline and sophomore Andre Barrett scored for Gonzaga.

The 2020-21 roster includes six returning seniors from last year’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) champion and District of Columbia state champion team.

“It was awesome to everyone playing together again,” said senior team captain Gianluca Sacco, about the season opener on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s game against DeMatha followed strict WCAC COVID-19 protocol. Players were required to wear masks at all times except when in the game, including during warm-ups and while on the bench. All players had to submit health checks via the AUXS safety app, and an athletic trainer screened all coaches. Spectators were not allowed. While this felt slightly annoying to players, it was a small price to pay for playing the sport they love.

“I was just happy to be out there,” Sacco said about the restrictions.

While the season doesn’t look the way players and coaches had hoped with all the regulations, they found ways to look for the positives of the situation.

“Young players will be getting more used to the varsity level and physicality,” Sacco said. “Experience is key.”

Sacco played for Gonzaga’s varsity squad as just a sophomore, so he knows the value of playing at that level as an underclassman.

On the coaching side, they found a similar advantage of getting to see more young players compete at a varsity level. They also enjoyed not having to cut players at tryouts this year. Instead of having a rigid team roster, coaches will select a roster for each match, including some different players. There are also two teams, varsity A and varsity B, that will play this year. Varsity A includes more returning players while varsity B includes more underclassmen.

“You see a little bit more in a season than you would in a three-day tryout,” assistant coach Jonathan Ruano said about not cutting players.

While this year’s seniors will have to end their careers with a unique season, the underclassmen are just getting started. 

“I saw a lot of hope for the future,” Coach Ruano said. “There is a lot of heart and a lot of talent.”

The Eagles Varsity A squad plays its next game at Bishop O’Connell on Thursday, March 11. Students won’t be allowed again, but parents of players will be permitted to attend.

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