Repetitive. Disappointing. Frustrating. All words that could have been used to describe George Mason High School’s heartbreaking 3-1 loss to Bull-Run District rival Clarke County High in the finals of the Region B girls soccer tournament. For the fourth time this year, the defending state champion Eagles triumphed over the Mustangs, and for the third time, the score remained unchanged.
With the stands filled to maximum capacity by both Mason and Clarke fans and with a rowdy section of Mason students singing cheers in both Spanish and English, the home team was unable to come away with the victory and the Region crown. From the start, however, the Mustangs seemed determined to overcome the domination of the Eagles, who have yet to lose to a Single A opponent this year.
Freshman Karen Hamill slipped behind the Eagle defense for a point-blank shot, but fired it right into the waiting arms of the Clarke keeper, senior Courtney Peake.
Clarke senior Leslie Hardesty put the first points up on the board in the first half. A deflected pass bounced towards Hardesty, who blasted a shot past junior Mustangs goalkeeper Rebecca Jackson to give Clarke County a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Going into the second half with a 1-0 lead, Clarke County turned up the pressure on the offensive end in the second half in order to pull away for good.
Eagle senior midfielder Jill Hobbs scored the deciding goal in the 64th minute. From the right corner, Hobbs, the Bull-Run District player of the year, curled a shot into the left-side of the net, over the head of Jackson, to give Clarke a 2-0 lead.
However, Mason would not go down without a fight. Hamill scored for the third time against Clarke this season less than a minute later. She has been the only Mustang to score against the Eagles this season.
“Our problem throughout the year has been finishing,” Mustangs Head Coach Jennifer Parsons said. “We felt like we outplayed Clarke, but they capitalized on their chances.”
Clarke scored its third and final goal of the match in the 78th minute, as senior Keely McCall slipped past the Mustang defense to ice the victory. The Mustang defense was able to keep junior Danielle Moyer — who scored seven goals in the first three meetings between the teams — in check, but three new Eagles rose to the challenge to capture their fourth Region B crown in a row.
“A couple communication breakdowns” proved to be the difference for the Mustangs, who have finished second to Clarke in the Bull Run regular season, the district tournament, and the Region B tournament.
Throughout the match, however, the Mustangs overcame both sickness and injury to put up a fantastic fight. Abby Stroup, Tegan Argo, Roxanne Sweeney and Katie Turner were all praised by their coach for their efforts throughout the night, overcoming these obstacles.
“How much more will it take to beat them?” Parsons wondered out loud. “Every time it seems like our girls work just as, if not harder than Clarke, yet every time we come out on the bottom.”
The road to battle Clarke one last time will not be an easy one for the Mustangs, however, as they face Region C champion Radford in the first round of the state tournament this Friday. Radford eliminated Mason in last year’s State Semifinals.
While Mason has to travel five hours to get to their 10 a.m. match at Radford University, their opponents are essentially playing a home game, putting just one more roadblock in the Mustang’s way in order to upend the defending champion Eagles.
Should Mason win on Friday, they would play Saturday, against the winner of the Clarke-Glenvar game in the state final at 10 a.m.
Notes: Forward Karen Hamill, sophomore sweeper Abby Stroup, keeper Rebecca Jackson, and senior defender Roxanne Sweeney were all named to the second team All-District. In addition, senior Katie Turner, juniors Rachel Kazman and Olivia Scott, and sophomore Kim Kenny were named to the first team.