Sports

3 Going for 4

Mustang Senior Trio Works Towards 4th Soccer Title, Prepares for Future

Excellence should be recognized. Sustained excellence, heralded.

Take, for example, Violet Miller, Elle Silverman and Hannah Walker.

These three seniors on the George Mason High School girls soccer team have at least one thing in common: at the end of each of the last three seasons, no one has stood taller.

The Mustangs have won the state title from 2008 through 2010, coinciding with Miller, Silverman and Walker’s first three years of high school. Now seniors, the trio is focused on four titles in four years.

“There’s always pressure,” said Silverman, 18. “People have high expectations because we have won it three years in a row. We’re the team with the target on our back. We have to work extra hard every single year just to maintain and beat good teams.”

Silverman, a midfielder, plays for a highly competitive club team in Bethesda. In her Mason teammates, she sees a dedication to a common goal as reason for the team’s success.

“It’s definitely because all of the girls on the team are willing to work hard and put forth a hundred percent effort at every practice,” she said. “I think that’s the most important thing, that we want to win, and we want to win states. It’s no different this year.”

In addition to being three-time champs, Miller, Silverman and Walker have a couple of other things in common. They all started playing soccer at a young age, and they’re all captains this season.

Miller, 17, who also plays for a local club team, credits head coach Jennifer Parsons, who took over the year before the three seniors reached high school.
“She’s been huge about team bonding and everyone getting along, which a big part of how well you play on the field is your relationship outside of soccer,” said Miller, a midfielder.

Miller cites last year’s title as the most challenging time of the current run at Mason. The Mustangs lost a number of players off the previous year’s team, leading to uncertainty.

Walker, also 17, and plays forward and mid, notes that at the end of her sophomore year, she got injured and was unable to play in the state finals. She said that rebounding from that to win – and contributing fully – made last year’s championship that much sweeter.
She also attributes the team’s continued success to a singular focus.

“I think there’s a really strong discipline ion the team,” Walker said. “We’re all focused on that one goal. Every single person on our team is dedicated.”
While the three girls share a lot in common, Walker’s path had a slightly different trajectory. Whereas Miller and Silverman began their high school careers on the varsity had club experience, even playing on a team together, it wasn’t until the 2008 postseason that Walker made the Mason varsity team her freshman year. She said she looked up to her two contemporaries, who were sources of inspiration that she emulated.

The ride is almost over. The three players graduate this year, and college looms on the horizon. Miller has committed to the University of Richmond, and Silverman is headed to Grinnell College in Iowa to continue her career. At press time Walker was debating between William & Mary, where she’d play club soccer, or Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she’d join the Division III program.

But there’s some unfinished business at hand. First the rest of Bull Run District play, then possibly regionals, then states, and, just maybe, a chance to make it four for four.

“I don’t know how to describe it,” Silverman said of winning states. “It’s just the best feeling in the world. You’ve worked so hard for something and it’s paid off and you get to enjoy the success with all your teammates, and that’s so fun.”