By Drew Costley
Many of George Mason High School’s spring sports teams will start competing this week and next with scrimmage games. This season, two teams look to continue their state championship win streaks, two teams have new coaches, and others are looking to win with young, experienced rosters.
The Mustangs won the single A state championship in singles, doubles and team play for the first time since 1989. They’ve won the team title the last three years. Kan Tagami, who won two consecutive singles state titles, and Karl Campanella-Dysart, who won the doubles title with then-junior Tommy Weber, graduated last season and left gaping holes in the Mustangs’ roster.
“Honestly, I do not know who will be filling into the starting line up,” said head coach Matthew Sowers. “I try to look at each season as a fresh start for everyone.”
Four starters from last season’s squad are returning to the team: Weber, the team captain, seniors Jakob Karstens and Santiago Villalon and junior Nate Jones. Sowers said he expects Weber to pick up where Tagami left off in singles. The Mustangs have to entirely reconfigure their line-up in doubles.
The Mustangs play their first match, a scrimmage against Hayfield, next Wednesday. Sowers wants to work on developing the team’s doubles partnerships against the Hawks.
Sowers said he wants to build team chemistry and confidence going into the post-season in late May. But he said the target is the same from year to year: “Simply put, our goal is to win in the post-season each year.”
Last season, the Mustangs went 6-7 in a rebuilding year. They return junior Peggy Brozi, who head coach Chrisline Baldo said was the most improved player going into last season.
The Mustangs scrimmage Hayfield in their first match of the season next Thursday and play Wakefield High School the next Friday.
“Repeating success is definitely a difficult thing to do, but it’s an exciting task,” said head coach Jennifer Parsons. The Mustangs won their fifth straight single A state championship last year, but lost their two captains, Nicole Philbin and Region B player of the year Leah Roth, to graduation.
As with last year, the Mustangs have a young, talented roster. Seven freshmen made the team this year, which is the most freshmen Parsons has ever added to a varsity roster in her seven years coaching the team. But Parsons said the Mustangs’ five seniors are “leading by example.” “I’m always looking to them to keep the bar high,” she said.
Junior midfielder Claire Trevisan, sophomore midfielder Ava Roth, sophomore forward Mary Keenan and sophomore goalkeeper Katie Cheney are key players for the Mustangs this season. Trevisan, Roth and Keenan earned all-state, all-region and all-district honors last season.
According to Parsons, the key to repeating the success of past years is to “mesh as a team and grow.” “It takes time to get to that level, but I know I have a very competitive group of girls this season who have a ton of potential,” she said.
The Mustangs scrimmage Hayfield Secondary School next Wednesday at home in their first match of the season.
The Mustangs’ season ended the earliest it had since at least 2007 last season. But the young team from last season, which only had four seniors, has returned with more experience.
Head coach Frank Spinello expects junior forward Cole Hinson, who missed a large chunk of his sophomore season with an injury, to be a reliable scorer. He also expects senior midfielder Henry Darmstadter to step up and fill the void left by Eion Oosterbaan, the Mustangs’ all-state midfielder who graduated last year.
“The players respond well to his leadership style,” Spinello said.
Junior midfielder/defender Paul Darmstadter, senior goalkeeper Sebastian Umerez, sophomore defender/midfielder Ned Quill and freshman forward Raheem Lawal round out the Mustangs’ key players.
“We have one of the hardest working teams that I have ever coached, the skill level is there,” Spinello said.
The Mustangs travel to Hayfield to scrimmage the Hawks next Wednesday.
The Mustangs can improve in all areas of the game, according to head coach Adam Amerine. They finished under .500 for the first time since 2008 last season. Amerine said the Bull Run District has been “very competitive” over the past decade.
“Last year we lost a couple early season Bull Run District contests that we probably should have won,” Amerine said.
The Mustangs have nine seniors returning to the roster. Senior outfielders Nick Bourbeau and Vijay Menon, who started all 22 games last season, are joined by sophomore infielder/pitchers Evan Davis and Chris Meador, who started as freshmen. Davis is one of several Mustang players vying to be a starting pitcher.
“I expect the next man up whether it is a sophomore or senior to perform to varsity standards and be ready to go for the 2013 season,” Amerine said.
The team starts its season with home scrimmages against Washington-Lee High School on Saturday and Woodrow Wilson High School next Wednesday.
Brian Fowler, who is in his first year as head coach, inherited a team that posted a winning record in 2012 for the first time in six seasons. Fowler said that he brings “energy and enthusiasm” to the team and implemented a weight-training and conditioning program over the off-season.
The Mustangs have a more experienced roster than last season with seven players returning who are now upperclassmen. Joining them are a group of freshmen led by pitcher Julia Ferris and catcher Annie Ferguson who are “eager to be difference makers,” according to Fowler.
The Mustangs scrimmage Stuart tomorrow night. Against Stuart, Fowler said the Mustangs “need to work on defensive positioning on the field [and] making sure as coaches we are putting the athletes in the best positions to be successful.”
Fowler said that the Mustangs’ baseball and softball diamond officially has lights, which allows teams to play later games, and encouraged the community to support the team in the March 12 regular season opener against Stuart.
Track and Field
Matt Kirk is also in his first season in the head coach position. Kirk was previously an assistant coach for the track and field and cross-country teams. He expects the team to be competitive this season despite losing several talented athletes, such as sprinter Alexandra Hairston and Eva and Julia Estrada.
He said the Mustangs will be most competitive in girls sprint and relay and boys sprint and distance events and that the team improved the most in distance events.
“We have some returning, and new, track athletes who really put in hard work during the fall cross country season and winter,” Kirk said.
Kirk said Blaise Sevier, who finished in the top five in the state during the cross-country season, will help the Mustangs in distance events. He also expects some returning girl sprinters to step up.
“We are bringing back a number of outstanding athletes and adding some new ones into the mix,” Kirk said. “It all depends on having a healthy season of training and adapting to a new coaching style.”
Head coach Courtney Gibbons said she expects the Mustangs to be “very competitive” even though the team is coming off of two consecutive losing seasons. Gibbons said that the team’s goal is to have a winning season in 2013.
“We have more depth at each grade level this year,” Gibbons said. “Everyone’s sticks skills have improved which will help us be more competitive.”
According to Gibbons, the Mustangs worked on their stick skills and conditioning over the off-season. The Mustangs only lost one player from last season, defender Molly Nesemann, to graduation.
“Our returners look really good and we gained some very talented freshmen,” she said. The Mustangs start their season with an away match-up against Potomac Falls High School on March 14.
The boys lacrosse team is coming off of a 2-9 season in head coach Zach Barrett’s first year leading the team. On the offensive end, the Mustangs go into this season without Will Powell and Nico De Ocampo, who both graduated. Defensively, they lost Vance Romero to graduation.
The Mustangs host Potomac Falls High School in their first game of the season on March 14.