2024-06-23 1:28 AM

Boys Head to States After Losing Region Title

Freshman striker Raheem Lawal evades a Nelson County defender while moving down field.  Lawal is the Mustangs’ leading scorer and second in the region in scoring. (Photo: Drew Costley)
Freshman striker Raheem Lawal evades a Nelson County defender while moving down field. Lawal is the Mustangs’ leading scorer and second in the region in scoring. (Photo: Drew Costley)

By Drew Costley

George Mason High School’s boys varsity soccer lost in the Region B championship in the past week, but is heading into the state semifinals this weekend and has scored what might be a record-breaking number of goals this season – 106, which is eight more goals than the 2010 Mustang team that won the state championship.

Head Coach Frank Spinello, who has been with Mason’s soccer program since 2000, said this is the most the team has scored in “recent memory.” He said the timing of the scoring is more important the amount of goals scored. And more important than either of those, he said, is the number of players contributing to the Mustangs’ offense. Of the players on the Mustangs’ roster, 21 of 25 have had at least an assist or a goal this season.

Freshman striker Raheem Lawal, the Mustangs’ leading scorer, netted two goals against Nelson County High School in the Region B semifinal last Wednesday. He scored in the 22nd minute off of a pass from junior midfielder Paul Darmstadter. Six minutes later, junior striker Cole Hinson connected with Lawal on a cross. The Governors scored a goal in the 53rd minute to make it a 2-1 match.

“I don’t think we played our brand of football,” Spinello said. “We didn’t pressure the ball like we needed to pressure. We didn’t posses it when we needed to posses it.”

Still, the Mustangs moved on to the championship against Stonewall Jackson High School last Friday. The Raiders scored in the 32nd minute and 58th minute of the match and were ahead 2-0 in the 68th minute when Hinson scored the Mustangs’ only goal.

“Right after I scored, we were all amped up and attacking with a lot of pace,” Hinson said.

About two minutes after Hinson put the Mustangs within one goal of a tied match, the Raiders came back down the field and scored the final goal of the game. Hinson said he thought the Mustangs’ excitement overcame their focus and led to the Raiders’ third goal.

“[They] had a counterattack that went down to the corner,” Hinson said. “They played the ball to the middle and all of our midfielders were out of position allowing them to have a straight shot on net.”

Spinello said the team was upset after the 3-1 loss in the Region B championship.

“I was a little sad that we lost obviously,” said senior goalkeeper Sebastian Umerez. “But after the finals I came to peace with the fact that it was over and started focusing on next week and how we can improve.”

The loss against the Raiders was the Mustangs’ first in 18 games. Umerez said losing gave them added motivation going into the state championships and their quarterfinal match on Tuesday against West Point High School.

Senior midfielder/striker Kurt Ellis scored the Mustangs’ first goal against the Pointers in the 16th minute off of a pass from Hinson. Senior midfielder Henry Darmstadter scored the second goal in the 28th minute off of another pass from Hinson during a corner kick. The Mustangs’ were up 2-0 at halftime.

Paul Darmstadter scored the third goal of the match from 22 yards out in the 52nd minute, assisted by junior midfielder/striker Sinan Kokuuslu. Ellis scored the fourth goal in the 70th minute. The final score was 4-0.

“I think we completely dominated them,” Umerez said. “We brought our A-game, which we needed to after the tough loss on Friday.”

The Mustangs head to Radford University Friday for a state semifinal match against Galax High School. If the Mustangs beat the Maroon Tide in that match, they’ll face either Radford High School or Stonewall Jackson in the state championship on Saturday.





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