Narrow 2-1 Win Over Madison Co. Keeps Mustangs Honest

NO MAURA MANN, Mason’s critical senior midfielder, is forcing the Mustangs to adapt their offensive game in order to create more activity around the net. (Photo: Carol Sly)

A Bull Run District rivalry added another chapter in its saga Tuesday night when George Mason High School’s girls soccer team staved off just enough from visiting Madison County High School to eke out a 2-1 victory.

The Mustangs (6-2-1) experienced an unfamiliar chill down their spine just three minutes into the contest — they lost their primary playmaker in senior midfielder Maura Mann to an ankle injury, and then lost the lead on a breakaway from Madison County’s left wing moments later. Mason would rally back by scoring its tying and then its go-ahead goal within a short span after the Mountaineers took the lead to re-establish its homeostasis. The game waded into long, scoreless possessions from there, with Mason head coach Leah Partridge looking for some more eagerness to find the net in her group.

“We need to get hungry for the goal,” Partridge said. “We have a tendency to pass in front of the goal, so we’re working on finishing the ball in front of the net.”

That breakaway from Madison County lit a fire under Mason. Moments later, while carrying a ball into the final third of the field, a Mountaineer defender fouled a Mustang and set up a free kick. Junior forward Emma Rollins did the honor and converted her opportunity with a sharp shot that flew by Madison County’s goalkeeper to tie the game.

The Mountaineers were able to get decent penetration again and put a shot on junior goalkeeper Josie Shaw before they recuperated for a counter attack. Just 19 minutes into the game Mason sent the final goal into the net when senior midfielder Maddie Lacroix connected with junior midfielder Fiona Howard on a short sprint. Howard was able to outrace Madison County’s back line and sink her shot to give the Mustangs their permanent advantage.

A few thrilling spurts dotted the game’s action from that point on.

Freshman defender Anna Williamson, who’s been adjusting to the varsity game all season after injuries forced her into the starting line up, lost a step on a Mountaineer forward in a one-on-one. As the Madison County player barrelled unbothered toward the penalty box, Shaw made her move and timed up the Mountaineer’s attempt at evading her perfectly to stem the breakaway opportunity.

Mason had its own one-on-one chance when junior forward Gabriela Stevens danced her way through Madison County’s defenders with two minutes to go in the first half. But Stevens’ shot was too direct and was easily absorbed by the Mountaineer goalkeeper, keeping the score steady at 2-1.

The second half was largely a possession-heavy affair for the Mustangs. Mason controlled the midfield and did a better job limiting Madison County’s scoring chances, but couldn’t muster any real scoring threats either. It prompted a Mason assistant coach to yell out that the team was too stagnant offensively. Partridge added on to that point by saying the offense needs stop ball-watching and move to open spots when attacking.

The Mustangs will be on the road all week, as they travel to face Clarke County High School on Friday and Rappahannock County High School next Tuesday.