by Matt Delaney
George Mason High School’s varsity boys soccer team played their first full game in over a week when they defeated Madison County High School 7-0, one goal shy of the eight goal deficit that would have shortened the match.
The win was routine for Mason. Thirteen minutes into the game the Mustangs had already generated four goals, with two apiece coming from strikers senior Donal Reyes de Leon and sophomore Kevin Valle.
It seemed Madison County was on the fast track to becoming Mason’s third straight game to end early after 10-0 victories over Warren County High School and Strasburg High School did just that.
However, the Mountaineers were reluctant to give Mason the satisfaction of such a victory. Following the Mustangs 4-0 lead Madison County conceded their futility on offense, and instead began stacking their own goalie box with nine to 10 players just to prevent a mercy rule loss.
As frustrating as the tactic was, head coach Frank Spinello found Madison County’s decision to sell out on defense quite flattering.
“We expect people to defend against us, and we felt we left a few goals out there,” Spinello said. “But it’s the ultimate sign of respect when they’re defending with every player on the field.”
Reyes de Leon completed his hat trick in the second half, while senior striker Elliot Mercado and senior midfielder Grant Goodwin tacked on the remaining goals for Mason.
The game might have been a standard result for the Mustangs, but it marked junior defender Nico Ferrara’s return to action after spending the last several months rehabbing a knee injury.
“In October I tore my ACL and I took six months off,” Ferrara said. “With coach Gallagher, the trainer [at Mason], I was able to get back to soccer this year.”
This was Ferrara’s second ACL injury, the first one sustained when he was eighth grade. His excitement over competing again was palpable, represented by his booming defensive calls and aggressive shots he launched from roughly 25 yards out.
One thing that was immediately noticeable with Ferrara’s re-entry was the improved communication Mason possessed. Teammates echoed his verbal cues and reacted with a cohesion that hadn’t been discernable in the season’s early stretch.
As the Mustangs enter the meat of their schedule, the reliance on communication will be imperative. “Just constant communication,” Ferrara said.
“We play every game like it’s the championship game and we try not to take our foot off the gas. That really helps out.”
The Mustangs defeated Central High School 8-0 on Tuesday, April 12, extending their win streak to 48 games. That win streak stretches to the beginning of their undefeated season last year.
Senior striker Elliot Mercado scored a hat trick and assisted with one goal against Central. Junior Olo Sembera Baracco scored two goals and assisted with two more in the match. Reyes de Leon scored two goals against Central and Wesley Quill scored another.
Matheus de Carvalho assisted with one goal and Goodwin assited with two more against Central. The Mustangs play Rappahannock County High School at home on Friday, April 15.