Women’s Varsity Soccer Secures ISL A Division Tournament Banner

The women’s varsity soccer team plays in the semifinal game against Flint Hill on Nov. 2. Photo by Shaila Joshi.

The varsity women’s soccer team won the Independent School League (ISL) A Division tournament against Episcopal on Friday, Nov. 4. The GDS team also had the best record in the division’s regular season, going undefeated in all conference games, including a 4–1 win against Episcopal. This is the first year on record that the Hoppers have both had a perfect season and won the A Division tournament banner.

GDS’ perfect record in the regular season gave them the first seed of seven in the playoffs, along with a first-round bye. In the second round of the playoffs they faced fourth-seed Flint Hill. The Hoppers won 2–1 in the semifinal game, which was also the team’s senior night. 

The ISL is divided into two divisions, A and AA, with the better teams in the AA Division. The best team in the A Division—this year, GDS—will be promoted for the next season to the AA Division. The last-place team in the AA Division—this year, National Cathedral School—will be relegated. In the AA Division, fourth-seed Potomac beat sixth-seed Sidwell in the championship game to win the AA Division’s ISL tournament banner.

The A Division championship game took place at Potomac, a neutral site, as per ISL rules. The stands were filled with GDS students and family members, and a considerably smaller number of Episcopal fans. 

The game started at 3 p.m., and Episcopal got off to a quick start, scoring in the first minute. GDS tied the score almost immediately when senior Dionne Harris scored inside the penalty area. Sophomore Mara Grace then scored with 25 minutes left in the 40-minute half, giving GDS its first lead. However, the lead was short-lived since Episcopal scored two quick goals to end the half leading 3–2. 

“The game was really up and down, especially in the first half,” senior and team captain Maya Ryu said. 

The second half started without a goal in the first 15 minutes, and tension built among the fans in the bleachers. Harris scored her second goal with 24 minutes left, bringing the game to a tie until Episcopal answered with a goal of their own seven minutes later. 

Episcopal’s 4–3 lead was challenged twice with close shots. GDS finally broke through from outside the penalty area with a shot by Ryu, which landed in the top left corner of the goal. 

Ryu’s goal came with four minutes remaining, when the intensity of the game was at its highest. With one minute left, the clock stopped and stoppage time—extra time at the end of the half to make up for time lost in the half due to small stops in the game—began.

In the final minute of stoppage time, Harris scored her third goal of the game, completing a hat trick and winning the game for the Hoppers. GDS fended off Episcopal for the final seconds, and as the final whistle blew, the GDS students attending the game rushed the field to celebrate with the championship team.

The team was awarded its banner after the game and the players celebrated with each other before leaving the field.

“I want to highlight the versatility of these guys, and the resilience to come back from down,” assistant coach Colleen Redmond said. “When the game was really on the line, we saw our seniors step up.”

The game was one of the last for this year’s senior players since the only games left are in the D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA) championship tournament. 

The team’s psych for the day of the game was “white lies,” in which every player wears a white shirt with a made-up fact about herself written on it. Before the championship game, some teammates fondly called Harris “Hat-trick Harris,” since she had scored many goals but never three in the same game. Her t-shirt read “I have a hat trick,” since at the time, she hadn’t achieved the accomplishment. “It felt great to finally be able to do that,” she said of her hat trick after the game. 

“As a senior, this game is a huge deal because we won the banner my freshman year and we were able to do it again,” Ryu said. “Everyone played great, and it’s just such a great feeling.”

The DCSAA tournament will begin the week of Monday, Nov. 7.