by Matt Delaney
George Mason’s varsity boys soccer team’s season got off on the right foot when they defeated Mount Vernon High School 2-1 on Thursday, Mar. 17.
It was Mason’s season opener and the third game for Mount Vernon, but the match had a playoff atmosphere to it. Both teams recognized the challenge that the other presented.
Head coach Frank Spinello was cognizant of this game’s tale of the tape and wanted the Mustangs to collude through any kinks they might’ve encountered against an imposing Mount Vernon.
“We knew we were going to play against a really good team. They beat the number 10 team in the country last night and two weeks ago beat the number two team in the country,” Spinello said.
“They were gonna give us our toughest challenge in a long time so we just wanted to stay composed and figure out a way. No timeouts in soccer, so players have to figure it out and they did just that.”
Mason figured things out in a hurry. Six minutes into the game senior striker Donal Reyes de Leon found fellow senior striker Elliot Mercado streaking toward the goal, who knocked in a one-timer to give the Mustangs an early lead.
Mount Vernon was unfazed by the deficit and continued to bombard Mason with long through balls that landed deep into Mason’s zone.
After repelling their advances for the first 30 minutes, the Mustangs defense finally cracked and created an open look for Mount Vernon sophomore striker Kwaku Boamah, whose goal knotted the game up at 1-1.
When play resumed in the second half Mount Vernon continued to press the ball near Mason’s goal and had junior keeper Walker Hegadorn under heavy fire. The Mustangs responded with a transition to offense that set up Reyes de Leon’s left-footed rip from just outside the penalty box, giving Mason the lead and eventual win.
The final score was 2-1 but Mason had a lot of chances throughout, and especially late in the second half, to turn the game into a blowout. However the Mustangs know it’s just the first game of many and will seek improvement in the weeks to come.
“Each game we are working hard to get better,” Reyes de Leon said. “That’s how soccer is. We make mistakes but we have to overcome them.”
Mason plays its next game Friday, April 1 against Warren County High School.