Freshman Miller’s 4 Goals Give Mustangs Championship, Bright Future
Friday afternoon, it was Mason High senior Olivia Scott’s moment to shine, nailing the clinching penalty kick in a triumphant victory over defending state champion Radford High School in the state semifinals. Saturday in the group A state championship game, Scott’s last game with George Mason girls varsity soccer team, the senior passed the torch on to some of her younger comrades.
Freshman Violet Miller, a first-team All-Region B selection, rang up a hat trick in the first half and added another goal16 minutes into the second 40 minutes, leading her Mustangs to a 7-1 triumphant win over the Goochland Bulldogs and Mason’s first state title since 2004.
“Yesterday against Radford, I was really nervous, so I didn’t really shoot the ball much,” Miller said about her performance. “Today, I wanted to play for the amazing seniors on the team, so I wanted to score that much more.”
Saturday’s contest on the pitch at the Dedmon Center at Radford University was not the first time Goochland and Mason had met this season. The Mustangs rolled to an 11-0 win in the Region B championship a week ago. For the opening few minutes of the state title game, the two teams played near dead even soccer, as neither was able to find a quality open look in the box.
"Goochland came out flying in the first, and they never let down,” said Mason Head Coach Jennifer Parsons. “To step up like that, it says a lot about how we fight. All the seniors just wanted to end the game on their terms, and it was just a great way to end this season.”
In the ninth minute, Miller outran the Bulldog defense and launched a perfectly-placed shot into the upper left corner of the goal. Off a corner with 21:36 remaining in the half, the ball was knocked around in the Goochland box, finally landing squarely on Miller’s sweeping leg, who fired one to the back of the net, giving her team the eventual winning goal.
While Friday’s game featured two of the premier teams in the state squaring off in a rematch of the 2007 semi-finals, Saturday’s contest was hardly close. In the 24th minute, Scott’s speed allowed her to turn the corner on a defender, promptly crossing it on the ground to sophomore Kelley Frank, who corralled it and placed it past the keeper to the left panel.
The vaunted Mustang defense was also on display when the offense was resting. Faunice Rebecca Jackson and Lauren Jekowsky, both seniors, teamed up to stymie the Goochland offense, each making several nice saves.
Playing without junior Alexa Peyton, who tore her ACL last week, and All-Region midfielder Elle Silverman (broken arm), juniors Tegan Argo, Abby Stroup and freshman Katja Butts stepped up admirably, holding senior Andrea Odemark, who had a hat trick in Friday’s semi-final match, to minimal chances.
Going into the playoffs, the Mustangs set an ambitious objective for themselves: score 50 goals in the playoffs. With players like Miller directing the offense, Mason rang up 51 throughout their title quest. In the second half, Miller netted her fourth and final goal of the game, gathering a rebound with a shot more akin to a bazooka than a human leg.
With 26:21 left in the latter half, an apparent goal by Mustang freshman Hannah Walker was negated by an offsides penalty. Never short of offensive firepower, the team marched down the pitch three minutes later, when Rachel Kazman found the top of Karen Hamill’s head for a goal in a pile of red and white jerseys.
Goochland’s lone goal came off a cross by Odemark to Tesia Werness, who bounced the ball in the air before it made its way past Jekowsky. Mason junior Mayssa Chehata scored the final goal of the afternoon, coming off a Kim Kenny deflection on a Kazman corner kick.
The Mustang offensive stat line was staggering. Mason more than quadrupled the Goochland shots on goal total (27-6) and had six times more corner kicks (12-2).
When the final buzzer sounded, the Mustangs poured onto the field with their index fingers pointed skyward. This relatively easy victory capped an incredible 2008 campaign for Parsons’ squad, in which they captured the Bull Run, Region B and state titles and never lost to a Single A opponent. In the playoffs, Mason outscored teams 51-3.
“This group of girls has never been past the state semifinals, so the adrenaline was really pumping after the win,” Parsons said. “After the game against Radford, I expected us to be a little tired, but everyone stepped up to the plate.”
“I’m just so proud of everyone,” added Scott. “It’s such a great feeling, and I’m so thankful for my teammates and for my awesome coaches.”
The state championship was the perfect way to end the high school soccer careers of five seniors, whom Parsons said would be “so hard to replace.” Jekowsky (University of Tampa), Jackson (Virginia Tech), and Stephanie Pinch (Elon) walk off the pitch in a varsity uniform for the last time, while Scott (Messiah College) and Kazman (Lynchburg College) will continue their careers at the Division III schools.
Other returning players, such as Miller, plan to work just so they can get back to Radford and again experience some of the euphoria felt on Saturday afternoon.
Topping this season, they acknowledge, will be difficult, as the accomplishments of the Mustangs are plentiful. Pinch, never at a loss for words, best summed it up as her team packed their bags for the last time in 2008: “District regular season? Check,” she stated. “District tournament? Check. Region tournament? Check. State tournament? Oh yeah, check.”