Sports

Mustangs Boys Soccer Heads to Radford

Last year, after winning the Region B championship, the George Mason High school boys varsity team lost at home to the Region A runner-up. This year, there was no such upset.gmhs-soccer-3

Last year, after winning the Region B championship, the George Mason High school boys varsity team lost at home to the Region A runner-up. This year, there was no such upset.

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George Mason’s goalkeeper Tyler Back. (Photo: News-Press)

Just hours after their female counterpart punched a ticket to Radford University for the state semifinals, the Mustangs followed suit, defeating the Mathews Blue Devils, 5-1, after a relatively close first half in the single A quarterfinal game.

Though there was no scoring within the first 20 minutes of play, the Mustangs controlled the ball for the majority of the half, exhausting the Mathews defense and wearing them down.

In the 22nd minute, the Mustangs struck first with a pass from freshman forward Ian Oosterbaan that was powered in by junior forward Nick Smirniotopoulos,* who had a productive evening beneath the lights on Mason’s turf.

After several Mustang offensive attacks were thwarted, Mathews managed to retaliate with a goal of its own in the 36th minute.

With the game tied at one, Mathews was unable build on the momentum, and the Mustangs immediately responded. Smirniotopoulos crossed to the left side of the field, weaving past multiple defenders and scored with two minutes remaining in the half.

With a minute left, a penalty in the box gave Mathews an opportunity to go into the half with a tie. However, sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Back, who was named to the All-Region B First Team on Monday, spoiled the chance with a diving save.

“I thought that was the defining moment,” said Mason assistant Coach Frank Spinello. “The save pretty much turned the tide of the match.”

At 2-1 by halftime, the Blue Devils had withstood the Mustangs heavy offense.

“[We] came out tight and didn’t really have a great first half,” Mason’s head coach, Arthur Iwanicki, said.

In less than three minutes of resumed play, sophomore midfielder Jordan Robarge set up the fatal and deciding blow, a goal scored by junior forward Andrew Arias.

“I told them [at the half] they had to play up to their potential to get the results they wanted,” Iwanicki said.

Mathews would only get two total shots on offense for the remainder of the match, while the Mustangs continued their high-powered assault on the Blue Devils keeper.

In the 47th minute, senior defender Jack Cashin crossed the ball to junior midfielder Alex Casteuble, who kicked it in and blew the game wide open, 4-1.

Smirniotopoulos scored again off of a deflected shot in the 59th minute, successfully earning him the hat trick on the evening.

When asked what to expect from the Mustangs this weekend at the state tournament, Iwanicki said, “We have been waiting for this for 364 days. None of these kids have ever been in the final four. If we’re fortunate enough to prevail, we will be excited to play the defending champs and we hope to give them some competition they’re not used to.”

On Wednesday, senior midfielder and co-captain Anthony Andrianarison received second team All-Met honors, as named by The Washington Post, two days after winning the Region B Player of the Year award.

The Mustangs will take on Stonewall Jackson in the state semifinals at 4 p.m., a team that Mason defeated in the Region B finals, 3-1. A win against the Generals would give the Mustangs a potential shot at the defending state champion, Radford High School.

*Correction: The article originally credited the game’s hat trick to Mason’s player number 8, junior midfielder Natan Lailari, instead of number 9, junior forward Nick Smirniotopoulos.