By Jeffrey Wojtala
The George Mason High School field hockey team traveled to Yorktown for their first 2A State quarterfinals playoff game in team and school history where they lost to the top-seeded Tabb High School Tigers 5-0 on Nov. 7.
Tabb is the defending state champions, having won the last four years consecutively.
Mason began the game with the ball and the inertia early into the contest. The first half was a back and forth affair between the teams. Tabb appeared to be more nervous than Mason and played a conservative defensive game. Mason tried to push the play of the game into the Tigers’ end, but consistently found themselves pinned back on their defensive half of the field. Tabb’s game plan was to strike long balls and look for tips or redirects in front of the net. Mason’s goaltender, junior Kristen Kay, stood tall in the net fighting off numerous Tabb shots and penalty corners, five in the first half, but at the 13:55 mark the Tigers finally got one past the Mason defense. When the horn sounded to end the half, Tabb was only ahead by one goal, a reality that many Mason fans found optimism in.
The second half began with Tabb having the ball, and the Tigers began to play in a manner that was the reason they had only one loss on the year. Mason could not manage any substantial pressure on the Tabb defense, while Tabb was gaining their footing with three consecutive penalty corners, the last which they scored on at the 25:20 mark.
Tabb continued pressing the Mason defense, lead by senior fullbacks Kalena Wojtala, Lydia Grund, Victoria Friend and junior Alex Biggs, but the rain, cold and fatigue began to set in and Tabb was awarded another four corners, where they scored on with 22:05 left in the game. Mason head coach Amanda Crider began freely substituting her nine and tenth graders into the game who were brought up from the junior varsity squad, but the young legs still could not inject energy into the Mason offense and Tabb continued to rack up corners on Mason’s end of the field. On Tabb’s 14th penalty corner of the game they scored again bringing it to a 4-0 Tabb lead. Tabb would go on to have sixteen total corners for the night and scored their last goal on a tough elevated shot into the back of the Mason goal.
With the loss, Mason finished the year with a record of 11-8. The season was a highlight for Crider who is moving on from Mason. In the five years George Mason has fielded a varsity field hockey team, all under Crider, they progressed from a three-win team their first year to the State quarterfinals this year.
The field hockey community and players, both past, current and future, will miss Crider and wish her well in her new endeavors.