by Matt Delaney
A two week hiatus and lightning delay couldn’t stop George Mason’s varsity boys soccer team from thumping Warren County High School for an abridged 10-0 Mustang victory last Friday.
Mason victory didn’t require the full 80 minutes of game time because of the Virginia High School League’s eight-goal rule (or the “mercy rule”) that is enforced if a team leads by eight or more goals midway through the second half. While surely a mark of shame for Warren County, the Mustangs weren’t trying to send their opponent home in such a manner.
“That’s never our intention,” head coach Frank Spinello said. “Since it’s so early in the season and knowing we have some tough games coming up we just wanted to get the starters some minutes together and get them used to playing with each other.”
The strategy paid off as Mason’s starters gained steam with each passing minute, prompting the scoring onslaught that took place throughout. Senior striker Donal Reyes de Leon opened the floodgates when he tallied his first of five goals on the night game just four minutes into the contest on an assist from senior midfielder Samsudeen Sallah. Reyes de Leon aided fellow senior striker Elliot Mercado on one of his three goals in the 12th minute and junior midfielder Olo Sembera Baracco’s finessed free kick two minutes later gave the Mustangs a 3-0 advantage that only grew. Sophomore striker Kevin Valle scored a goal in the second half as well.
Warren County failed to unnerve Mason’s fluidity on Friday and were left chasing passes around their own defensive zone as a result. Even when the Mustangs’ starters were phased out near the end of the first half and for parts of the second, reserves still gave the Wildcats trouble, revealing a crucial aspect of Mason’s roster.
“Like coach [Spinello] said: we have reinforcements, not subs,” Sembera Baracco said. “When they go in, they do the same job. As a team, we just try to play with the same intensity for all 80 minutes.”
The win over Warren County was Mason’s first game action since their thrilling 2-1 win over Mount Vernon High School to start the season on March 17, making the team starved for some real competition. “We were anxious to get games started again,” Spinello said. “Down times never good during the season.”
If that’s how Mason plays when they’re anxious, other teams should be dreading to catch them once they’re firing on all cylinders.
The Mustangs also beat Strasburg High School 10-0 on Tuesday, April 5 at Strasburg. The Mustangs play Madison County High School at home on Friday, April 8.