Ending on a High Note: Rebuilding Mason Lacrosse Team Posts Late-Season Wins


Mason lacrosse player Brendon Smith attacks the goal. (Courtesy Photo)
Mason lacrosse player Brendon Smith attacks the goal. (Courtesy Photo)

George Mason High School’s varsity boys lacrosse team finished a challenging rebuilding season this spring by winning two of its final three games, including posting its first win in its new 5A Commonwealth Conference tournament.

The Mason boys beat Freedom High School, 16-4, with a standout eight-goal performance by sophomore attack Brandon Ward. Freshman midfield Brendon Smith contributed a hat trick, plus an assist and seven ground balls. Senior midfield Romy Jovero had six faceoff wins and nine ground balls, and junior defenseman Paul Patterson nabbed eight ground balls.

The team followed that win with another, in the first round of the conference tournament against Massaponax High School, 7-5. Ward has two goals and three assists, Smith had two goals and one assist, freshman attack Rory O’Hanlon had two goals, and Patterson nabbed five ground balls while scoring with a long stick goal. Sophomore goalie Dan Dusenbery had six saves.

The Massaponox win was significant; Mason lost to this opponent in overtime earlier this season, 7-6. Prior to the latest Massaponax game, Mason had lost to John Champe High School, 15-10. Earlier in the year, they had lost to Champe, 13-3. Both games signaled improvement in the team, as new players acquired skills and the team began playing more cohesively after a tough start.

In the final tournament game, Mason lost to eventual champion North Stafford High School, ranked No. 14 in the state and currently advancing in the state AA/AAA championship tournament.

Last year, Mason fielded just a boys JV team due to low numbers of seniors playing and turnover in the program. Athletic Director Tom Horn relaunched the varsity boys lacrosse program at George Mason High School this spring, bringing in new Head Coach Kevin Pope. Pope came from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, where he built the boys lacrosse program from the ground up and coached lacrosse for 16 years.

This season’s new varsity program team had 24 players representing each grade of the high school, with a mixture of some advanced players but many underclassmen and players new to the sport. The relaunched team faced a formidable schedule – in lacrosse Mason plays AA/AAA, including much larger schools in the region. The season saw Mason play the first-, fourth-, seventh-, and ninth-ranked teams in AA/AAA in the state, and several other teams loaded with highly experienced senior talent. Despite playing with great resolve, results were often lopsided. Mason was 1-12 before rebounding with the two wins in its final three games, ending at 3-13 and 3-5 in the conference.

On the season, Ward led the team with 31 goals and 12 assists for 43 combined points. Smith was second with 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 combined points, along with 65 ground balls. Patterson led the team with 76 ground balls and was a force on defense. Senior midfield Romy Jovero had 57 ground balls, 37 face-off wins, three assists, and three  goals scored. O’Hanlon contributed eight goals. Dusenbery recorded 129 saves against stout opposition.

“We are laying the foundations for a strong future for Mason boys lacrosse,” Pope said. “We knew coming in that this was a rebuilding year, about getting new players, teaching game fundamentals. Each game was a learning experience. I’m proud of the determination and effort of all of the players. I’m also grateful to contributions of the seniors who helped reestablish varsity lacrosse at Mason. Next year we are returning our starting defense and attack, who were all juniors, sophomores, or freshmen. We have a strong incoming class of rising freshmen next season. The future path is strong for the Mason boys varsity lacrosse program.”