Even though the spring sports schedule officially began more than a month ago at George Mason High School, the varsity girls soccer team had yet to have a practice with their entire squad present.
Due to the success of the basketball team, in which the Mustangs went to the state “final four” in Richmond, as well as a foreign exchange trip to Chile, coach Jennifer Parson’s squad has taken the field in bits and pieces for the majority of March.
However, if Monday’s game against J.E.B. Stuart, when the full team finally came together on the pitch, is indicative of how this season will go, then the Mustangs are sitting pretty.
Mason shut out Stuart 5-0 to level the team's record at 1-1 after opening the season with a 2-1 loss to Freedom-South Riding.
“I actually think [having so many players gone] has benefited the team in the long run,” commented Parsons. “The players came back to training with motivation and competitiveness in our sessions. From this point forward I think things will begin to mesh and the team will begin to grow substantially.”
In order to find success, Mason will turn to a plethora of experienced veterans, including the seven who tasted success on the basketball team, as well as a pair of freshman new to the program.
Violet Miller and Elle Silverman, who spent last year at George Mason but did not play on the junior varsity team, have had an immediate positive impact on the field. Both, as Parsons stated, come loaded with talent and a wealth of high level club experience in the Olympic Development Program.
Miller netted two goals against Stuart to lead the 5-0 onslaught of their cross-town rivals, while seniors Olivia Scott and Rachel Kazman each found the back of the net. Sophomore forward Karen Hamill, upon returning from the exchange trip to Chile, instantly found her niche on the team, adding the final goal.
Even though Parsons’ team made it all the way to the state semifinals last year before falling to eventual champion Radford, 1-0, the Mustangs only graduated two players — Katie Turner (College of Charleston) and Roxy Sweeny.
Parsons is confident, though, that the current senior class can bring the leadership and have the same impact that their predecessors did. As always though, Mason finds a way to reload. In addition to Miller and Silverman, senior transfer Stephanie Pinch (Yorktown High) brings AAA experience to the defense to help out with the already stacked back line.
The Mustangs also return All-State junior midfielder Kim Kenny, defender Tegan Argo, who
was All-State two years ago as a freshman, Hamill, goalie Rebecca Jackson and defender Abby Stroup, all of whom were named second-team All-District last year.
While it is nearly impossible find Single-A non-district competition in the Northern Virginia area, Parsons has done her best to schedule tough competition, all of which will, as she said, be great for the growth of the team. The Mustangs already scrimmaged Langley, a perennial AAA powerhouse, and will take on AA Potomac Falls and Park View over the course of the season.
“I am really looking forward to seeing how the girls respond to that type of competition, to see how we compete against the level of play that the bigger schools are going to put forth,” added Parsons.
As always, all roads point to April 21 and May 13 dates with state runner-up Clarke County, with whom the Mustangs have been rivals as long as any player on the team can remember. Mason lost to Clarke four times last year in intense and physical contests, two of which came in championship games. However, with the efforts being put forth so far by the entire team, the outcome might be incredibly different this season.
With their split squad, the Mustangs had a hard time against Freedom/South-Riding in their first contest last Thursday, falling 2-1 to the Eagles. Scott, a First Team All-District selection last year, scored the only goal for the shorthanded Mason squad, with the assist coming from sophomore Kelley Frank.
The Mustangs took the field against Washington-Lee High this Wednesday at home, but results were not available at press time. They open their district schedule next Friday against Manassas Park.
For the little time the team has been on the field together, the Mustangs are still drawing raves from their coach, who thinks that Mason “has the right mix of skill, athletic ability and leadership to fight for the state title this year.”