by Matt Delaney
A competitive 2-1 win over Clarke County High School in the Conference 35 championship set up George Mason’s varsity girls soccer team’s 3-0 victory against Staunton-based Robert E. Lee High School in the 2A East Regional quarterfinal on Memorial Day.
Seeking redemption for a 4-3 loss to Clarke County to end the regular season was paramount for Mason heading into their rematch last Thursday. The loss, which ended a 12-game winning streak, reminded the Mustangs that they couldn’t afford to check out against any team, especially as they get deeper into the postseason.
With a chance to right their wrongs less than a week later at home and in a more meaningful game, Mason came up big and proved that their earlier defeat was a fluke.
“It was important for us to have that win against Clarke [County] because it just gave us that extra momentum moving forward,” head coach Allison Klink said.
“We knew that we had to come out as a different team from the one that went to [Clarke County].”
On the field both Mason and Clarke County were fairly even. The Mustangs had a lion’s share of the possessions and shot opportunities while capably cutting off any of the Eagles advances.
However, Mason failed to find the back of net for the entire first half and kept Clarke County’s hopes alive as both teams began the second.
That was until a shot from senior midfielder Corinne Carson rolled along the goal line and in a flurry of feet before junior midfielder Rebecca Crouch poked it in for Mason’s first goal. Five minutes later sophomore forward Izzy Armstrong kicked a knuckle ball past Clarke County’s goalkeeper that put Mason ahead 2-0 and in full control until the game’s conclusion.
Robert E. Lee was a feisty opponent that worked hard to take away Mason’s strengths. Unfortunately for Lee, the Mustangs are as dynamic as they are skilled, which allows Mason to operate efficiently both inside and outside of their comfort zone.
“One of our big [areas of] emphasis has been to look at what’s going on on the field [and] adjust,” Klink said.
“You don’t have to score six goals to be in control a game, so I think we did that really well tonight as far as movement of the ball and knowing when we could push to score and when we had to work it around.”
Mason’s success came in areas they don’t often find it in, namely set pieces and isolation plays. Two Crouch corner kicks found Armstrong for the first and third goals of the game, while Armstrong had a nice individual play when she danced her way though Lee’s defense and finished up close for Mason’s second.
The Mustangs will host Maggie Walker Governor’s School for the Regional semifinal on June 1.