By Drew Costley
The regular season is winding down for most of George Mason High School’s spring sports teams. Many Mustang teams were able to continue to dominate the competition and have built on their success from last season. Some Mason High athletes are heading into postseason competition with their sights set on district, conference, and state-level victories.
The Mustangs (13-4, 13-4) are in third place in the Bull Run District and in second place in Conference 35, but are in the race for first place in both divisions – the team’s final three games of the season will decide their fate. They play Strasburg High School, the first-place team in the district and conference, twice, and play William Monroe High School, the second-place team in the district, once in the last week of the regular season.
The team’s highlights throughout the regular season include a five-game win streak in early April and playing competitively against Woodrow Wilson High School, one of the top baseball programs in the region. Head Coach Adam Amerine said a good team atmosphere is one reason Mustangs are winning more games this season.
“We’re picking each other up, playing as a unit rather than as individuals. Amerine said. “[We’re] getting some good pitching, good defense, and timely hitting.”
Another key to the Mustangs’ success this season, according to Amerine, has been the team’s pitching depth. There are currently eight pitchers in the team’s rotation.
“We’re getting good pitching from the entire staff,” Amerine said. “So kids like Evan Davis, Grant Hagler, and Gabe Terry – they’re off to good starts on the mound. And it all starts with pitching in baseball.”
The Mustangs play the Strasburg Rams (15-1, 15-1) tonight at home, travel to Strasburg for a rematch next Monday, and host the William Monroe Dragons next Wednesday in their final game of the regular season.
The Mustangs (6-8, 6-8) have become more competitive in district play in recent years, and this season continued the trend.
“The games have been more spread out in terms of score [in the past],” said Head Coach Brian Fowler. “We have really become more competitive within our district than in years previous. There used to be games where we lost 30-0 or 25-1.”
The Mustangs’ biggest loss this season was a 13-0 rout by Madison County High School, a team that was undefeated for most of the season – they also played the Madison County Mountaineers (12-1, 12-1) to a 4-1 loss. The latter game was one of five games the Mustangs played against district opponents this season that were decided by three runs or less.
“Everybody understands that it’s a building process. We’re a young team,” Fowler said. “Our pitching is really good – that’s really what’s helped us get to this point. Everybody’s always positive because we’ve been competitive in every game.”
Sophomore pitcher Julia Ferris is the Mustangs’ ace on the mound. As of May 12, she was batting .589 and had 104 strikeouts on the season.
“She does nothing but get better as every year goes on,” Fowler said. “The next couple of years we should be even better.”
The Mustangs play Strasburg High School tonight at home and host Warren County High School tomorrow night. They wrap up their regular season next week with a game at Strasburg on Monday before hosting Clarke County High School on Tuesday and William Monroe High School on Wednesday.
Boys and Girls Track
The Mustangs have had a banner year in terms of competitiveness within the Bull Run District. The girls team finished first and the boys team finished second at the Central High School Invitational and at meets at William Monroe and Madison County High School.
Head Coach Alisa Harvey said using team members in the right events, encouraging them to take care of their bodies, and specializing their training to the events in which they are competing are keys to the Mustangs’ success this year.
Harvey said that junior sprinter Tara Holman – the top runner in the state in the 100-meter dash and second in the state in the 200-meter dash – is one of several key contributors to the team’s success.
“She’s come on really strong,” Harvey said. “She’s going into finals and winning lots of meets.”
Harvey also said that senior Truman Custer and his brother, sophomore Preston Custer; senior Michael Addo-Ashong and his sister, sophomore Vicky Marie Addo-Ashong; and sophomore Blaise Sevier and sophomore Alec White are all contributing to the team’s success with top-place finishes in their events.
The Mustangs started their postseason last night in the Bull Run District meet at Strasburg High School, but results were not available at press time. They compete in the Conference 35 meet next Tuesday at Strasburg.
Head Coach Matt Sowers was concerned. Could his team step up and continue the past Mustangs’ success – four consecutive state championships – after losing a senior class with a combined record of 78-9?
But the Mustangs (11-1) haven’t fallen off this season, and are poised to make another postseason run at the state championship.
“This year’s success has been due to experience,” Sowers said.
He said seniors Jacob Field, Jacob Morris, David Drawbaugh, and Nate Jones have helped the Mustangs maintain their high level of competitiveness. Two key pickups for the team, Sowers said, are sophomore Thomas Beddow and freshman Thomas Morris, Jacob’s younger brother. As of May 12, Jones’ career record at George Mason is 89-10 – his season record is 16-2.
Sowers said that developing doubles lineups has been an ongoing process that will continue throughout the rest of the season.
“Our number one (Nate Jones and Jacob Morris), I feel confident that they’re going to carry Conference 35 and hopefully have enough success there to continue into the postseason,” Sowers said. “Number two and number three, we’re still working on.”
The Mustangs finished out their regular season last night at Clarke County High School, but results were not available at press time.
The Mustangs (10-0) have been able to continue their overwhelming success from last season in a year when the team has welcomed two new coaches, Stephanie Ferreira and Alex Ware, to the program.
“We have a great group of girls. Everyone works really, really hard and works together, which is fantastic,” Ware said. She said that the duo’s coaching style has helped the team come together and improve. Last season they had one regular-season loss – this season they were undefeated going into their final game of the season against Clarke County High School, though results were not available at press time.
“I think with two new coaches it has definitely been different for a lot of the girls because they haven’t been necessarily experienced our coaching styles before,” Ware said. “We’ve been pretty strict and hard on them but in a good way, so it’s made them come together and bond more as a team, which I think has definitely contributed to a lot of the wins.”
Ware said that the team’s top eight players – seniors Peggy Brozi, Caiti Hof, Dana Sembera, Lauren Meinhart, and Madison Soltys; sophomore Sarah Mueller; and junior Kynadi Mauney and her sister, sophomore Carrington Mauney – have been the biggest contributors to the team’s success. But the Mauneys have been particularly helpful to Ware and Ferreira making a smooth transition into the head coaching positions.
“Kynadi and Carrington Mauney have really helped out coach Ferreira and I [as] new coaches and helped us get the team together and mesh, which has been really awesome for us,” Ware said.
The Mustangs start competing in the Conference 35 tournament next week, although a date has not been set for their first match.
The Mustangs (1-12, 1-12) have only had one win this season, their first returning to varsity status after a one-year hiatus. They beat Potomac High School 7-2 in early April – all but three of the rest of their matches have been losses by nine or more goals.
Assistant Coach Will Stewart said some of the challenges have had to do with depth on the team and injuries to key players like junior long stick midfielder Jackson Jost. Jost is expected to return to action next Monday.
“Then I’d say the main challenge has been experience,” Stewart said. “We did not have a varsity squad last year so we are playing with a team that at the beginning of the season had virtually zero varsity-level lacrosse experience.”
Stewart said the team has been proud of its performance against division opponents like Potomac and in a rematch against John Champe High School. Their first match against John Champe was a 13-3 loss in their second game of the season, but their second was a 15-10 loss on Monday.
The team’s defense has improved over the course of the season, according to Stewart.
“We’ve definitely got a better feel for how we need to play together as a team on defense, communicating with each other and helping each other out,” Stewart said.
The Mustangs play their final game of the season tonight at Freedom High School.
The Mustangs (10-4, 10-4) will finish the regular season with a winning record for the first time since 2010 after switching from the Dulles District to the Stafford District.
“The team is definitely working together much better and we’ve got a lot more skill around,” said Head Coach Courtney Gibbons. “But we’re also playing a completely different schedule, so we’re playing a lot of new first-year programs from the Stafford division, so that’s kind of had an impact.”
Gibbons said the arrival of several players from last season’s freshman lacrosse squad has also played a role in the team’s success this year. Gibbons said one of the biggest additions to the team is freshman center Sarah Lubnow, who has helped the team win more draws this season. The Mustangs have also been able to lean on Maeve Curtin, a senior and team captain, and Natanim Teshome, a senior goalkeeper who is in her first year on the team.
Gibbons said that the team’s stick skills have improved over the course of the season. Still, the team has been working more on stick skills in recent practices because their stick skills have been a weakness in recent games, according to Gibbons.
“We are refocusing right now because I feel like we’ve plateaued a little and we need to work hard, especially with the biggest part of our season coming up,” Gibbons said.
The Mustangs play their final game of the regular season tonight at home against Freedom High School.