The team’s overall record of 9-9-1 this season was mediocre. Yet, against Northern Virginia rivals, the Bishop O’Connell Knights had a much more impressive 6-1 mark versus those private-school soccer squads.
The boys high-school team, which regularly played five freshmen and had only four seniors, lost its opening match of the season to Seton of Manassas, then won its next six contests against Northern Virginia opponents, including two victories over the St. Paul VI Catholic Panthers.
In those six wins, O’Connell had three shutouts and outscored those opponents, 26-4.
Last fall, O’Connell also stood out against Northern Virginia teams, with an unbeaten 5-0-1 record. In 2021 the Knights were 5-0 against those rivals.
“We have been very good against those teams for a while now,” O’Connell coach Chris Jennings said.
The Knights’ current season ended with losses in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and Division I state tournaments. O’Connell defeated Bishop Ireton, 4-0, in first-round conference play, then lost to eventual champion The Heights in the next round.
In the state tournament, O’Connell was the No. 7 seed and lost to 10th seed St. Anne’s-Belfield in the first round by a 2-1 score.
“We had a ton of shots in that game, hit posts and crossbars, but we didn’t score enough,” Jennings said. “We thought we should have won that match.”
The state tournament berth was the 11th straight for O’Connell, all coming under Jennings. The Knights had never earned a state berth until Jennings became the coach.
“I’m happy with how we played but not happy with some of our results in matches,” Jennings said. “We should have had at last three more wins.”
Jacob Bredbenner, Gabriel Gutierrez and Peter Boniface were the Knights’ leading goal-scorers this fall, and among the assist leaders, as well.
Bredbenner had 16 goals and four assists. Gutierrez had 11 goals and three assists and missed the playoffs with an injury. The seniors each were captains and were chosen first team all-WCAC and second team all-state.
Kelvin Vandehei was another senior captain. The defensive specialist had one goal and three assists and was honorable-mention all-WCAC. He will play at Messiah University.
Boniface was a junior with six goals and four assists and also was an all-league honorable-mention choice, along with freshman Zayden Bediako (one goal one assist).
Juniors Timmy Adye, Renzo Reynoso and Bobby Signorelli also scored goals or had assists.
Junior Ed Martin and sophomores Jonathan Stewart and Keaghan Fahle were O’Connell’s goalies.