BALTIMORE – Two area high school coaches were recently honored for leading their respective teams to success this past season.
Walt Whitman High School boys soccer Head Coach Dave Greene was awarded the National Coach of the Year for Large Schools as well as Regional Coach of the Year Honors by the United Soccer Coaches Association on Jan. 17 in Baltimore. In the girls soccer division, Churchill High School varsity soccer coach Haroot Hakopian was named the Regional Coach of the Year.
Greene led the Vikings to their second straight Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A state championship trophy after a 3-1 win over Leonardtown High School on Nov. 16. Greene has now been Whitman’s head coach for seven of their program’s 11 state championships and finished the 2019 season with a 17-1-1 record. Their last loss to an in-state team came against Bethesda Chevy-Chase in the second round of the 2017 MPSSAA 4A state playoffs.
Hakopian and the Bulldogs won their last two regular-season games to finish with a 5-5 record before winning four straight matches in the state playoffs. They upset top-seeded Quince Orchard for their first regional title since 2015 and only the second time in team history.
“I think it is great for Montgomery County and to show how strong our soccer programs are,” Hakopian said. “It is sometimes not recognized outside our county and not outside our state.”
Hakopian credits some of his success to Greene, calling him a mentor with his coaching knowledge as well as providing administrative help as well.
“He is a great friend of mine, so it was great to share that honor with him,” Hakopian said.
Caps win without Ovechkin
No Alex Ovechkin? No problem.
The Washington Capitals needed to play without their leader and top offensive threat on Jan. 27 in Montreal to start the second half of the season. Ovechkin elected to skip the All-Star Game in St. Louis, and the NHL elected to strike him with a one-game suspension.
He agreed to sit out the Montreal game, but the Caps did fine without him, posting a 4-2 win in the road contest that stretched their winning streak to four games.
Goalie Braden Holtby has been struggling lately but finished with 31 saves in a solid performance. That was his first win since Jan. 5, and Jakub Vrana, Travis Boyd, Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom each scored a goal.
“Definitely a difficult building to win in,” Caps coach Todd Reirden said. “And a little bit shorthanded without Alex tonight. But it was a good team win for us. I thought Braden was real strong, and we’ll definitely take the two points and get on our way here.”
Washington scored three goals in a row after falling behind 1-0 early. Holtby made several tough stops, and the Caps then scored three in a row to take command.
After Montreal sliced the lead to 3-2 in the third period, Backstrom sealed the deal with an empty-net goal. With three Canadians closing in, he flipped a puck over them, and it rolled into the goal for a 4-2 lead.
Wizards fall to Atlanta
The Washington Wizards suffered a 152-133 loss in Atlanta on Jan. 26, but that wasn’t the story of the game.
Bradley Beal scored 40 points for the Wizards, and Troy Brown Jr. added 19 more, but everyone’s thoughts were on the death of former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, which happened earlier in the day. Overall, nine people died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
“It’s a tough day for everybody,” said Washington Head Coach Scott Brooks. “He’s obviously one of the great sport legends of any sport.”
Beal said that Bryant was one of his idols in basketball growing up, and the Wizards guard was emotional about what happened.
“He was our (Michael) Jordan, so to speak,” Beal said. “Hell, half of us got the chance to play with him and play against him, so I know it hits home with everybody around the league.”