For the seniors on the George Mason girls varsity soccer team, Tuesday night’s matchup with Washington & Lee marked the final home game of their historic career. They ended it the way they’ve played for the last four years: on a winning note.
The Mustangs officially opened up defense of their state title with a 14-0 trouncing of the Eagles, continuing their dominance of group A opponents and will enter the final four at Radford University on Friday on a 15-game winning streak.
Mason struck early and often against Washington & Lee, the Region A runner-up. Midfielder Elle Silverman, a sophomore, opened the scoring just over a minute into the game with a goal from five yards out that scooted past the goalie on the left side.
Senior tri-captain Abby Stroup found the back of the net less than three minutes later, and from there the rout was on for the Mustangs. Senior Mayssa Chehata and sophomore Hannah Walker scored back-to-back goals on the ensuing possessions following Stroup’s goal, and Mason had a 4-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
“Getting up early has its pluses and minuses,” Chehata said. “Obviously it’s important to come out strong, but taking an early lead usually slows the game down. But our mindset is always on attack, no matter time and score, and I think we did that well.”
The scoring frenzy continued just seven minutes later, when Silverman connected on her second goal of the evening. Classmate Veronica O’Rourke followed it up with a goal of her own on the team’s trip downfield as the Mustangs took a 6-0 lead with 18 minutes still on the clock.
Mason went on another run as the first 40 minutes came to a close, scoring three more times in the final six minutes of the half. At the 6:49 mark, sophomore Violet Miller set up on the right side of the goal, received a pass from midfield classmate Camille Darling and headed the ball into the center of the goal. Exactly 45 seconds later, Darling would score on a header as well, off of a pass from freshman Leah Roth.
Like Darling, Roth scored almost immediately after picking up her first assist, finding the net just before halftime and Mason led 9-0 at the break thanks to goals from eight different players.
“We just continued to attack the way we usually would,” Stroup said. “The scoring was well rounded because our team is deep and everyone that we put on the field is capable of scoring.”
The Mustangs continued the attack in the beginning of the second half, extending their lead to 10 after just 18 seconds of play. Junior Karen Hamill gave her team a double-digit lead thanks to an assist by Walker.
In the 53rd Maddy McAllister hit a shot from the far right side of the field that scorched the bottom left portion of the goal to make the score 11-0.
Two minutes later in the 55th minute, senior tri-captain Alexa Peyton received a pass from junior defender Kelley Frank and sent a shot past the Eagle goalkeeper for yet another Mason goal.
Before it was all said and done, Roth would score her second goal of the game and senior defender Maddie Nooter netted the first of her career.
“We wanted everyone else [the non-starters] to get significant playing time for fitness and experience,” coach Jennifer Parsons said. “It’s good to have everyone get a chance to play in the quarters because we may have to use just eleven players once we get to the semis.”
Once again, it was a stress-free game for senior goalkeeper Caitlin Sickler, who did not have to make a save the entire night.
On Monday, Mason placed a record number of players on the All-Region B team, headlined by senior Kim Kenny, who was named the Region Player of the Year. Silverman, Miller, and Argo were named to the first team, while Stroup and Roth were named to the second team. Still, the team refuses to remain content with a Region B title and all the individual accolades, instead focusing on defending their title in Radford.
“Being the defending state champion adds both pressure and confidence,” Stroup said. “We all know that as long as we play to our abilities, we have very good chances.”
“In the state tournament, you never know what’ll be thrown at you,” Chehata added. “We’re playing teams that we’ve never seen, or only seen once and we have to remember that each team we play is a potential state champion – like ourselves.”
The Mustangs will open up Final Four play on Friday at 10 a.m. when they take on Wilson Memorial, a school Mason defeated in the Region B championship earlier this year and a 3-0 winner over Region A champion Northampton on Tuesday.
“We have a lot to work on before Friday,” Parsons said. “We can’t take them [Wilson Memorial] for granted at all. It’s their last year in Single A and may be their last chance for a state championship in a while.”