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DCIAA soccer champs
Bell boys, SWW girls bring titles home
(Published December 1, 2003)

By DAVID STEINBACHER
Special to The Common Denominator

The Bell Multicultural High School boys soccer team captured its second DCIAA title in the past three seasons by defeating Wilson 7-1 on Nov. 22 at RFK Stadium’s auxiliary field.

Bell and Wilson have been the two premier teams in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association for more than a decade. The Bell Griffins, coached by Victor Molina, finished the overall season with a 12-1 record (8-0 DCIAA regular season). The Wilson Tigers, coached by Francis Ryan, finished the season with a 12-10-3 overall record. (Wilson played in several tournaments and faced more non-DCIAA opponents than other teams.)

Bell scored early and took a commanding 5-0 lead at halftime. The initial score was recorded by standout senior striker Marcus Price eight minutes into the contest. Price, with 26 goals during the entire season, beat the Wilson goalkeeper with a blistering line drive shot from 25 yards out. Seven minutes later, Price fired in a line drive, left-footed shot from 15 yards out. It proved to be the decisive score of the contest.

"I couldn’t have done all of this without the help of my teammates," Price said afterwards.

Price’s teammates in the match were goalkeeper Josimar Ventura; defenders Oscar Calix, Joel Borjas, Francis Canales, Oscar Mendez; midfielders Daryn Flores, Edwin Bonilla, Carlos Carranza, Dadesse Ambachew; and fellow striker Andres Gomez. Gomez scored the lone goal in the 1-0 semifinal win against Roosevelt days earlier.

Whereas the score was just 2-0 for the majority of the first half, the Griffins exploded for three more goals during the final 15 minutes of the half to put the game away. During the blitzkrieg to close out the first half, freshman midfielder Carranza beat the Wilson keeper to the keeper’s right and drilled in an acrobatic left-footed shot from 20 yards out to make the score 3-0. Senior striker Gomez scored with his foot to make the tally 4-0, and senior striker Price scored with his head to give Bell a commanding 5-0 lead at intermission.

The second half was largely academic. Price, via an assist from senior midfielder Ambachew, and Price, via an assist from senior midfielder Bonilla, made the score 7-0.

If there was a silver lining for Wilson, it was that the Tigers scored the first DCIAA goal of the entire season on the Bell defense. In Bell’s previous nine DCIAA contests, they had shut out their opponent.

Late in the contest, Wilson Tiger standout junior striker Lucien Koefoed beat Bell sophomore keeper Josimar Ventura to Ventura’s left side for Wilson’s lone goal of the match.

"I beat him from about 10 yards out," said Koefoed, who plays club soccer during the off-season with fellow Wilson soccer starters David Rosenbaum, Billy Byers, Sam Levy and Josh Hoffman.

Other Wilson starters for the championship match included Juele Lawrence, Brian Haskell, Muhammad Abdul Ali, Ciro Salamanca, Nick Johnson and goalkeeper Sam Sandifer.

"We thought the game with Wilson was going to be tight -- we only beat Wilson 1-0 during the regular season," said Bulldogs’ Coach Molina. "We played a good counter attack game today. The teamwork was good. Our players really showed up today."

Tigers’ Coach Ryan expressed disappointment.

"In the beginning of the season, this team had a lot of potential," Coach Ryan said. "Quite possibly our semifinal win versus Cardozo [less than 24 hours before the championship] took our legs away today. On the positive side, this was our 13th consecutive year playing in the championship game. We can rebound from this and have a good ’04 season."

Wilson has won eight DCIAA soccer titles in the past 13 seasons. Bell has played for the DCIAA title in eight of the past 10 years. The Griffins last won the title in 2001.

"We had a difficult situation this season - having to play all of our games on the road," Coach Molina said, noting that his team has no home field. "All of the kids worked hard. I’m looking forward to the younger kids stepping up next year."

In the girls’ championship match, which preceded the boys’ contest, School Without Walls defeated Wilson 3-1. It was the first soccer championship in school history for the School Without Walls Penguins, coached this year by both Bob O’Sullivan and Carolyn Schultz. Wilson was coached by Jaime Merlos.

At the end of regulation play, the sister combination of Brittanee and Ashlee Gourdine is what brought the championship home for School Without Walls. The two sisters are just shy of 20 goals on the overall season between the two of them. Brittanee, a senior striker, scored the first goal of the contest approximately 20 minutes into the first half.

"I passed the ball to Ashlee. She passed it back to me. I hit a right-footed line drive shot that beat their keeper to the keeper’s left side," Brittanee Gourdine said.

Wilson tied the contest 1-1 shortly thereafter, when junior defender Kimberly Ryan scored for the Tigers.

"It was off of a direct kick. I hit it in right footed from about 25 yards out," Ryan said.

Ryan, a standout defender, has scored four offensive goals this season for Wilson. Ryan; junior strikers Tammy Ramirez and Harsha Cooke; junior midfielders Valeria Lopez and Maureen O’Keefe and sophomore midfielders Justine Cortez and Yesenia Nunez have combined for just over 30 goals this season for the Lady Tigers.

Minutes before halftime, Ashlee Gourdine, a sophomore striker, recorded the decisive goal of the contest. Gourdine received the ball from her elder sister and beat the Wilson keeper from about 10 yards out, making the score 2-1.

"We really wanted this game today. We’ve practiced a lot this year," said Ashlee Gourdine.

The second half was a defensive battle royale. The Wilson defenders -- Ryan, Yesenia Argueta, Doris Villegas, Diana Franco and senior goalkeeper Lydia Miller -- were nearly flawless.

"We did our best out there today," said Franco.

The School Without Walls midfielders: Jalika Street, Jessica Hemsley and Dana Bell; the Lady Penguin defenders: Cleo Bell, Leslie Byford, Jessica Szemraj and Katherine Dean; and most specifically the School Without Walls freshman goalkeeper Mara McLaurin were flawless.

"Defensively, we wanted to control Wilson. We wanted to make sure that they didn’t get any breakaways on us out there today," said Street.

"Defensively, we have good chemistry. We can pinpoint where we are needed on a given play, said Byford.

In the only score of the second half, Brittanee Gourdine scored the game’s final tally in the last eight minutes.

"On balance, we had a good season. We only lost one game and tied one game during the entire regular season," said Wilson defender Ryan, daughter of the Wilson boys soccer Head Coach Francis Ryan.

"The players were excited. Their skills and their unity was key in winning this Championship. The team has really come together this year," said Penguins’ Coach Schultz.

Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator