For the first 24 minutes, the Madison County Mountaineers acquitted themselves well Tuesday night against what is expected to again be another dominant boys varsity soccer squad from George Mason High School.
But as the first half wound to a close, the Mustangs opened up a two-goal lead they would not relinquish as Mason cruised to a 5-0 final and a 2-0 record to start play in the Bull Run District.
Sophomore Nick Smirniotopoulos led the scoring for George Mason, finishing off a picture-perfect cross through the goal box by fellow sophomore Teddy Rueckert for his second goal of the latter half and his third of the night. Smirniotopoulos tallied just a few minutes earlier as well, working his way left to right across the top of the 18-yard box before scorching a shot over the outstretched arms of the leaping Madison County keeper.
In his second year with the team, Smirniotopoulos is showing a newfound explosiveness with his foot speed, an attribute Mason Head Coach Art Iwanicki credits to his participation in the school's Speed Training and Championship Training programs, conceived and conducted by Mason Athletic Director Tom Horn and Trainer Vicki Galliher, as well as Larry Mendenhall.
The Mustangs didn't make a mark on the scoreboard until the 24-minute mark in the first half, but then struck twice times over the next five minutes to begin to build what would become an insurmountable lead. After winning three consecutive corner kicks, the Mustangs finally put the ball in the back of the net when junior midfielder Anthony Andrianarison pounced on a loose-ball rebound. Just over three minutes later, Smirniotopoulos notched his first goal of the night, collecting a long pass to midfield and then warding off his defender for roughly 30 yards and launching a shot into the net.
The Mountaineers made freshman Mason goalkeeper Tyler Back work to earn the shutout. Following Smirniotopoulos's first-half goal, Back corralled a dangerous free kick from just outside the 18-yard box that snuck over the Mason wall of defenders.
With the final seconds of the first half ticking away, the Mountaineers finally managed to put a ball behind Back, lobbing a high ball over the keeper. The high-arcing shot was turned aside by a streaking Andrianarison and the half ended at 2-0.
Andrianarison added his second goal in the game's final quarter to comfortably salt away the win for Mason.
The 5-0 win was the second in two district games for the Mustangs who topped Manassas Park on the road last Friday night. Senior Antonio Randrianasolo struck for two goals to lead Mason.
Through the first two games, Mason has outshot its district opponents by a margin of 37-5.
Overall the team's record stands at 3-2, with Mason's only losses coming to AAA J.E.B. Stuart and regional power Potomac Falls.
“I'm very pleased with the progress we've made during the run of play and, especially, with set pieces,” Iwanicki said. Shortcomings on set pieces proved problematic for the Mustangs late last season, when their season was derailed in the Region B Tournament despite going undefeated in Bull Run District play.
The Mustangs next host Strasburg on April 18, before hitting the road for an April 22 date against Rappahannock, a match that could foretell the final standings of the Bull Run District.