Sports

Mason Soccer Teams Two Wins From State Titles

Sports---Mason-Boys-Soccer-The George Mason High School boys and girls soccer teams certainly seem to be peaking at the right time: After routing their opposition to collect a pair of Region B championships, both Mustang clubs cruised to comfortable wins in state quarterfinal play on Tuesday at home in Falls Church.

 

Sports---Mason-Boys-Soccer-

George Mason star Nick Smirniotopolous has helped key the Mustangs’ recent wins. (Photo by Tim Follos).

The George Mason High School boys and girls soccer teams certainly seem to be peaking at the right time: After routing their opposition to collect a pair of Region B championships, both Mustang clubs cruised to comfortable wins in state quarterfinal play on Tuesday at home in Falls Church.

The wins put the Mustangs on the bus to the state semifinals on June 11 in Radford. The girls’ game is expected to start at 10 a.m.; the boys game will follow in the afternoon.

On June 2, the Lady Mustangs stomped Central-Woodstock High 10-0 in a Region B semifinal game. Sophomore Leah Roth had four goals in the game, junior Elle Silverman scored a hat trick, juniors Hannah Walker and Katie Breen had one goal apiece and senior Kelley Frank finished out the scoring for Mason.

Also on June 2, the Mason boys handled Alta Vista High easily to advance to the Region B title game. The Mustangs won 6-1 as Andrew Arias scored two goals and Nick Smirniotopoulos notched a goal and three assists.

In the Region B championship game on June 4, the Mustang girls topped Madison County 4-1. Leah Roth scored twice for Mason in the game and Violet Miller and Hannah Walker scored once each.

The Mustang boys made it look easy in their Region B championship bout, thrashing Nelson County 9-0 behind a monster seven-point game by Mason senior Nick Smirniotopoulos, who scored four times and added three assists. Also scoring for Mason in the match were Andrew Arias (two goals and an assist), Alex Casteuble (one goal and an assist), Harris Schaffer and Erik Carlson (one goal apiece). Dane Warner and Eion Oosterbaan each had one assist for the ‘Stangs.

In the state quarterfinal game, the Mason girls ran roughshod over Northumberland and out-shot the Indians 48-0. Hannah Walker scored three goals for Mason, and Leah Roth scored twice. Maggie Mascarenhas and Elle Silverman also tallied for the Mustangs. Roth, a sophomore, also had a pair of assists in the game.

“We’ve been talking about moving the ball quickly to an open player when teams pack the area in front of the goal. Hannah took advantage of those open shots from 20 yards out and buried them tonight,” said head coach Jenn Parsons, who has led the Mustangs to back-to-back state titles. “It was good to see us score that way rather than just on breakaways.”

“We don’t try to run up the score,” Parsons said, “but it’s hard to tell your girls to back off in the state quarterfinals. They want to play and score goals. Most of our starters played half the game or less tonight, so that shows the depth of our team.”

Parsons said that George Mason’s location is a key reason for its teams’ success on the pitch. The coach, a former member of the Washington Freedom, said that most of her starters have played on travel soccer clubs outside of school, an activity which is much more feasible in a suburban environment.

“Player-for-player, we probably have more kids who play soccer year-round than most of the schools we play,” Parsons said.

In rural areas, the travel associated with club soccer can be a significant obstacle, Parsons said, but “our girls can travel 10 miles to play another great club team. When you’re playing year-round, it’s definitely an advantage.”

In the boys game on June 8, the Mustangs controlled the ball for the vast majority of the game, but were only able to get on the board via an Andrew Arias penalty kick around the 50th minute and a late Teddy Rueckert tally off a slick Nick Smirniotopoulos pass.

“I was very pleased with our performance,” Mason assistant coach Frank Spinello said after the game. “We played with great patience. They packed it in defensively, and in these types of games it’s easy to force a lot of balls in.”

Spinello said his team did a “tremendous job” of switching fields, “and a lot of that is due to Eion (Oosterban) and Alex (Casteuble) in the midfield giving us support and showing for the ball, and Jordan Robarge and Harris Schaffer making runs nonstop on the outside of the field.”

“Robarge had an outstanding match,” the coach continued. “He’s played like that all season. He got dissed on the All-District Team. He was unfortunate not to make it, and he’s been playing with a chip ever since, trying to prove that he’s one of the best players on the field. I think he’s done that.

“Nick (Smirniotopolous) did a great job, too. He didn’t score, but he made some big plays for us. I think that assist was his 29th of the year, which shatters our school record. The old record was something like 21.”

Smirniotopolous is expecting to play at Virginia Tech next year.

Both Parsons and Spinello think their clubs are in good position to bring home state titles this weekend.

“Our focus at practice is the best it’s ever been,” Spinello noted approvingly. “We challenged them to bring everything they have at every practice, and they’ve really stepped it up. They’re playing like it’s a championship game every time we step out onto the practice field. That’s so important.”