Another week is in the books and George Mason High School’s girls soccer team is finding its footing in the midseason, picking up a 2-1 Bull Run District win over Central High School on April 20.
While the year started by trading wins and losses among higher and lower classified opponents, the Mustangs (5-3) are beginning to hit their stride as they face district competition that they’ve owned for the past decade. Still, humility is a must in any contest and Mason is realizing that, despite their superior skillsets, they need to remain level-headed and approach this year’s slate of Bull Run games as aggressively as they have in the past.
“In previous years we often relied on having better players — both physically and technically — when competing in the Bull Run,” Mason assistant coach Leah Partridge said. “Due to some injuries earlier in this season we don’t have that luxury right now, so we need to really stick to our fundamentals and keep a good team mentality out on the field.”
Squaring off against Central, Mason experienced more resistance than they were expecting. The Falcons struck first when a Mustang defender knocked a Central striker to the ground in Mason’s penalty box, setting up a penalty kick to the low right post that put the Falcons up 1-0 in the 19th minute.
A Mustang team that was going through the motions up until then suddenly found some fire and began pushing the pace during their possessions.
However, the resulting surge fell flat at first.
Mason continually pushed through balls up the middle, attempting to beat Central’s back line. The strategy failed as the Falcons repeatedly cleared away scoring drives and kept the Mustangs stuck in the middle third of field retrying the same approach.
In the 30th minute, Mason was able to flood Central’s penalty box, but a heroic effort from the Falcons’ keeper kept the Mustangs at bay. Finally, in the waning moments of the first half, Mason broke through when junior midfielder Maura Mann’s left-footed shot bounced off Central’s keeper and fellow junior midfielder Maddie Lacroix won a scrum in front of the net to enter halftime tied at one apiece.
Coming into the second half, the Mustangs revised their offensive tactics and quickly reaped the reward.
“This was our first time facing a sweeper all season,” Partridge continued. “So when we tried to do through balls up the middle, their sweeper was waiting on the back end to clear the ball back to midfield. We switched up our attack instead to come from the wings and then cross into the middle, which opened things up for us.”
In the 64th minute, freshman midfielder Emilia Cipriano received a diagonal through ball that cut across the center of the field to her on the left wing, where she then fired a low grounder past Central’s keeper to take the lead for good in favor of Mason.
The Mustangs are home for their next two games, where they’ll host Clarke County High School this Friday before welcoming Rappahannock County High School next Tuesday, May 1.