The George Mason High School boys varsity soccer team concluded its undefeated run through the Bull Run District by claiming the district tournament title with a 3-0 victory over Clarke County last Thursday.
The win in the championship game improved the Mustangs’ record to a perfect 12-0 over district opponents this season and gave them home field advantage throughout the Region B Tournament that began on Memorial Day. The Mustangs put that edge to full use on Monday, largely coasting to a 3-0 win over Stonewall Jackson in their quarterfinal matchup.
Sophomore Nick Smirniotopoulos put Mason (14-2-1 overall) on the board first, outrunning a defender to the ball and slipping a shot along the turf and past the Stonewall goalie five and a half minutes into the match.
“Nick really made a difference with that first goal,” Mason Head Coach Art Iwanicki said. “If that didn’t go in, it really would have changed the nature of the match. The score would have been nil-nil approaching halftime and it would be all ‘OoooOooo,’” he continued, channeling the spooky sounds of the ghosts that have seen Mason fall early in the Region B tournament for the past few years.
While Smirniotopoulos’s goal in the early going gave Mason a cushion, it was a pivotal red card handed out to a Stonewall player just before the half that assured a positive outcome for the Mustangs. After earning a yellow card for a hard tackle, an offensive gesture towards the referee earned the Stonewall player an ejection and forced the Raiders to play a man down for the remainder of the match. On the ensuing free kick, Mason senior Matt Gresko played a long ball into the goal box where junior Anthony Andrianarison touched it over to junior Thomas Kim, who slammed it into the net with his left foot.
With a two-goal lead and with the Raiders playing with just 10 men, the Mustangs scaled back their attack in the second half, resting starters for the majority of the final 40 minutes. Nevertheless, sophomore Teddy Rueckert used his chest to guide the ball just over the line to account for the final goal with just over 16 minutes remaining in the match.
Last week in the Bull Run title game, Smirniotopoulos sparked the Mustangs past the Eagles by scoring all three goals in Mason’s 3-0 win. With Mason dominating possession throughout the contest, and firing 15 first-half shots, the Mustangs clung to a one-goal lead after Smirniotopoulos’s first goal in the game’s opening minutes. He opened the second half in similar fashion, scoring three minutes into the second half, before capping his night at the 52-minute mark with a goal from near the top of the box.
The Mustangs next face Nelson County, last year’s state-runner up, on Wednesday, May 28 in the Region B Semifinals. The winner advances to the state tournament next week.
Notes: Mason striker Antonio Randrianasolo, out since May 9 with a severely bruised heel, is progressing slowly with his rehab and will be a game-time decision on Wednesday.
• Following Monday’s win, the Mustangs have not lost in 14 games, a streak that dates back to April 7 when the team lost to AA Potomac Falls.
• The shutout against Stonewall Jackson was the 10th of the season for freshman goaltender Tyler Back. He has posted seven clean sheets in his last nine games.
• Clarke County, the second team from the Bull Run District to qualify for the Region B Tournament, was eliminated Monday by Wilson Memorial, 4-1.