Adversity came in an unexpected form and one game sooner than anticipated for George Mason High School’s boys soccer team as it downed East Rockingham High School, 15-0, on Memorial Day.
*Record scratch* — wait, adversity in a 15-nil contest? Awah?! No it wasn’t conventional adversity, where the opposing team’s talent, execution and will combine for a worthy test. It was the other kind; the one where Mason (17-1-1) struggled to perform as its typical potent self. It took about 25 minutes to shake off the holiday malaise, but once the Mustangs did, it didn’t take them long to reacclimate to regional postseason intensity.
“It was just kind of a weird situation playing on Memorial Day. We’re not in our regular routine, we’ve got some guys coming in from [club] soccer tournaments. It just took a second to get in the groove, but once we got one to go in, the gates opened,” senior forward Nick Wells said.
Misfires abounded for nearly 75 percent of the first half and wasted what was going right for Mason. The Mustangs were able to maintain possession and stifle any advances from East Rock whenever the visitors did make it past midfield. And the brisk, but methodical possessions Mason had created quality looks on goal. Converting those chances with a solid foot, however, proved slippery and kept the Mustangs on equal standing scoreboard-wise deep into the half.
A deep run down the right side from freshman forward Yasin Shams with a shallow cross to junior forward Zorhan Boston, who dribbled himself out of an open shot, appeared to signal the the scoring dry spell would become a drought. But seconds later Mason earned a corner, which junior midfielder Corwin Miller sent in, junior midfielder Alex Kryazhev kept alive with an athletic header and Boston finished with a roller that pinged off an Eagles player and went in during the 27th minute.
The goals came consistently and got progressively prettier from there. Junior midfielder Hunter Broxsen dribbled into a scrum and lost the ball, which conveniently rolled right to Shams who ripped it in. Sophomore forward Smith Kraft set up Boston’s second goal in the 33rd minute to put the Mustangs up 3-0. Before halftime, Mason tallied two more scores from freshman forward A.J. Smith and junior midfielder Henry Brorsen.
With no “mercy rule” in effect for region playoff games, the Mustangs kept the scoring tab open in the second half. An own goal in the 41st minute followed by Kryzhev’s first in the 44th and Boston’s third in the 46th had Mason up 8-0. Shams would add two more, followed by Miller, sophomore midfielder Jack Brown, Kraft, and freshman midfielders Matthew Hellert and Will Atkeson.
One thing to keep an eye on was a concussion senior defender Miles Lankford suffered in the regular season finale against Clarke County High School. Lankford was withheld from the action last week and did play against East Rock, though for limited minutes. Mason head coach Frank Spinello noticed Lankford’s own hesitancy to head the ball, but assured his limited playing time on Monday was a precautionary measure and the senior captain should be all set moving forward.
Mason defeated Wilson Memorial High School last night 9-0 and will host Staunton-based Robert E. Lee High School at 5 p.m. tomorrow night for the Region 2B championship game.