Three losses in a row. One may think this is not the best way to start a season.
Others might disagree.
“I see no cause for concern,” said George Mason High boys soccer coach Frank Spinello. “We have challenging non-district games for reasons. We want the speed of play and skill level to be at or above what we may see in the postseason. We play AAA and AA teams that we expect to win their districts and/or regions.”
The Mustangs lost their season-opener against Loudoun Valley High, 5-1, at home on March 16. Mason was on the road the next day at Brentsville District High School, and lost again, 3-1.
“We don’t like losing any games, against any opponent, but playing the best competition available serves a purpose,” Spinello said.
Mason got another chance against Loudoun Valley High at home last Thursday, but, a last-minute goal by the Vikings guaranteed Loudoun’s victory. The Mustangs had more shots on goal and field presence than Loudoun while three of Mason’s shots hit the crossbar and two hit the post.
“If you look at the difference between our game against Loudoun Valley three weeks ago, 5-1, and then last week, 1-0, we were a completely different team,” Spinello said. “We were more confident, more cohesive and we were clearly the better team on the field, regardless of the score.”
It’s not the first time Mason lost games in the beginning of the season.
Last season, the team tied four out of their five first games, and started winning at a district game against Rappahannock County. In the 2009 season, the boys only had two losses, both in the beginning of the season.
The Mustangs ended up winning state championships in both years.
“We have had three state winning teams that did not win a single game leading into the district season,” Spinello said. But I do not think we would have won titles in those years without playing great teams in the beginning of the year. I think it would be foolish to pad our record by playing weaker teams early in the year.”
The Mustangs are back at home game against Battlefield High School tonight for another non-district game.
“I expect us to continue to improve and continue to get better throughout the season,” Spinello said. “It is not about what we do in March, it is how we play and what we achieve in June that counts.”
Mason travels to Manassas Park High School next Thursday, April 7, to play the Cougars at 7 p.m. for their first district game.
“We have a big target on our backs after winning back to back state championships,” Spinello said. “I expect Manassas Park to be a very challenging team. This may be the deepest the Bull Run District has been since 2002, where several teams have a legitimate chance to go very far.”
Mason’s next home game is against Clarke Country April 12 at 7 p.m.