George Mason High School’s varsity girls soccer team received an early-season shock to the system as they fell 6-1 to Falls Church neighbor J.E.B. Stuart High School. The Mustangs responded with wins over Rappahannock County High School (8-0) and Central High School (3-1) in the past week.
Mason’s (2-1) rough opening half against the 5A Stuart team put a damper on a much-improved second act. On paper the Raiders were fairly even competition for the Mustangs, holding a 3-1 record this year and finishing 2016 at 13-4. However, Mason failed to put their best foot forward when the opening whistle sounded and that ultimately sunk the Mustangs’ hopes of snatching a win on Stuart’s home turf.
“Sometimes when you play teams that you know are stronger, we tend to forget how strong we are, too,” head coach Allison Klink said. “We begin to play back when we really need to be going at them full force and showing them our skills.”
Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, senior midfielder Rebecca Crouch weaved her way through Stuart’s back line and looked to halve Mason’s deficit. But her shot careened past the goal and off the right post, setting up a Stuart fastbreak that increased its lead to 3-0. That goal shifted momentum in favor of the Raiders. The home team notched three more strikes before halftime and had the Mustangs on the ropes.
Klink recentered Mason during the intermission and sent her team back onto the field in a fury. The Mustangs began pouncing on loose balls, finessing passes and getting stops on defense. Crouch found the back of the net three minutes in, and though neither team scored again, Mason undeniably “won” the half and was able to go out on a high note.
“We have some things to work on, especially in a fast-paced game like this — playing to feet, not popping balls up in the air — but the more we did that the more we dominated,” Klink said. “Overall, I’m really happy with how they turned it around in the second half.”
Mason handled its Conference 35 competition last week.
Rappahannock County was little match for the visiting Mustangs’ relentless attack that sliced through the Panther defense. The few times Rappahannock County did win possession, Mason reclaimed it quickly.
Central was a feistier opponent that repelled a fair share of the Mustangs’ advances. Tied at 1-1 in the first half, Mason ripped off two straight goals to seize the game and the victory in the second half.
The Mustangs host Warren County High School tomorrow.