The George Mason boys varsity soccer team lost to Clarke County High in the Bull Run District tournament championship game on May 26 by a 1-0 final score. It was Mason’s first loss of the year. After the setback, Mason hosted Riverheads High School in a Region B quarterfinal game on Memorial Day.
The George Mason boys varsity soccer team lost to Clarke County High in the Bull Run District tournament championship game on May 26 by a 1-0 final score. It was Mason’s first loss of the year.
After the setback, Mason hosted Riverheads High School in a Region B quarterfinal game on Memorial Day.
Mason won that game 3-1, which propelled the Mustangs to a regional semifinal match-up on Wednesday, June 2, which concluded after this newspaper’s deadline. For breaking local sports news, please visit fcnp.com/sports.
Assistant coach Frank Spinello said that the Mustangs “had beaten Clarke twice pretty handily in the regular season, and we thought that 80 percent effort was going to win it. And when things started getting a little tough, instead of fighting through it, we just got frustrated. You’re never going to have a perfect game, and that’s what we’re trying to teach: When you make a mistake, you’ve just gotta fight through it and make the next play count.”
Mason’s star forward, Nick Smirniotopolous agreed that his team “overlooked the game a little bit.”
“We maintained possession, we had a lot more shots, I thought we dominated the game, and they got a goal on one of maybe two good scoring chances,” the senior captain said. “That’s a part of soccer that I have a love-hate relationship with. I’ve been on the other side of it, where you play a really good team and kind of get lucky and that’s a great feeling. It feels really bad when it happens the other way. We were lucky that it happened in a game where it didn’t cost us the season.”
In the quarterfinal regional game, Mason similarly controlled the ball most of the game, but the Mustangs were only able to tally on a pair of Andrew Arias penalty shots and held a tenuous 2-1 lead until Smirniotopoulos burned three Riverheads defenders, fought through several tackle attempts, dribbled about 25 yards down the right sideline and all the way to the net and gracefully slipped the ball past the on-rushing keeper in the 73rd minute to give Mason its final margin of victory.
Smirniotopoulos described the goal as a pure product of perseverance.
“I got past the first guy and was looking to shoot and it just didn’t happen,” the forward recounted. “I got knocked over and spun around and just kept my eye on the ball, kept composure and knocked it in.”
Mason’s normal goalkeeper, Tyler Back, was playing with a travel team, so Alex Casteuble played goalie for Mason in the quarterfinal match-up.