By Drew Costley
All but one of George Mason High School’s spring varsity sports teams have winning records going into the final stretch of the regular season. The boys and girls varsity tennis and boys varsity soccer teams have better records than they did at this point last year, and the girls varsity soccer team has the same record as it did 12 games in.
The boys varsity tennis team has an improved record from last season, continuing the momentum that led the players to state championships in singles, doubles, and team play. Twelve games into last season, when the team included state champions like Kan Tagami and Karl Campanella-Dysart, the Mustangs were 10-2. This season they are 11-1. Head Coach Matt Sowers attributes the success to “having a deep roster and experienced players from 1-3 seeds.”
Senior Tommy Weber, junior Jacob Morris and junior Nate Jones, in that order, are the Mustangs’ top three seeds and have a combined record of 53-5 in singles and doubles matches. Juniors Jacob Field and David Drawbaugh, and freshman Thomas Beddow have rotated in the 4-6 seeds and subbed in at times for Jones, who missed matches due to injury. Jones has the team’s best record in singles and doubles play at 23-1.
The Mustangs have two match-ups against district opponents left to play in the regular season: one at Central High School tomorrow night and a Senior Day home match-up against Clarke County High School next Wednesday.
As of April 17, the girls varsity tennis team’s record was 10-1, a total turn around from last season. Eleven games into last season, the Mustangs were 5-6.
“This season has been a tremendous season for the girls tennis team,” said Head Coach Chrisline Baldo. “My girls are very motivated to do well this season. We practice hard and we only focus on one match at a time.”
Baldo said the addition of Kynadi Mauney, a sophomore, and Carrinton Mauney, a freshman, has helped the team improve.
“They have such great energy when they are playing tennis and all their teammates feed off that energy,” Baldo said.
Baldo said the Mauney sisters and freshman Mariam Salakaia are statistical leaders for the team.
“As a coach, I am really proud of my girls and I am excited to see how far they go in the post season,” Baldo said.
The Mustangs’ remaining matches of the regular season are against Central High School tomorrow night at home and at Clarke County High School next Wednesday.
The boys varsity soccer team is undefeated in the Bull Run District, giving up a tie to Manassas Park High School on Tuesday, and has a 55-12 scoring differential this season. Three of the Mustangs’ players, freshman striker Raheem Lawal, junior striker Cole Hinson and junior midfielder Paul Darmstadter, are amongst the top players in the region in scoring. Lawal has 14 goals on the season and Hinson and Darmstadter both have 10.
“Overall this may be one of the most complete teams, and by far the deepest team, that I have ever had the privilege of coaching at Mason,” Spinello said.
George Mason only has to win its remaining games to win the district regular season title, but the tie gives the Cougars a chance to win the district should the Mustangs lose any of their remaining games. Still, it’s unlikely they’ll lose a game – George Mason has outscored its remaining opponents 24-4.
The girls varsity soccer team is second in the Bull Run District after losing 1-0 to Clarke County High School in mid-April. Before that, the team had been on a five game win streak and had outscored its opponents, all district foes, 40-0. The Mustangs have gotten back on track since the loss to the Eagles with 7-0 wins against Central High School last Tuesday and Madison County High School last Friday.
The Mustangs have been able to end three games early because of their high scoring output and a rule mandating that games in which a team is ahead 8-0 or more after 60 minutes end in victory for the team in the lead.
“I don’t go in to games thinking we want to end them early,” said Head Coach Jennifer Parsons. “I think it’s more of getting the urgency of play that we know we’re going to need to be successful in the post-season.”
As a result, the Mustangs have been able to get 60 minutes of extra rest, which is key for a team with several players who also play games on the weekend.
“Almost every girl on the team plays travel soccer as well, so they’re looking at two or three extra games on the weekends,” Parsons said. “So it definitely can’t hurt that they’re getting a little extra rest.”
If the Mustangs win the rest of their games, they can force a one-game playoff against Clarke County for the regular season Bull Run District championship and top seed and home field advantage in the district playoffs.
The varsity baseball team has literally turned around its overall record so far this season. Fourteen games into last season, the team was 6-8 with three losses to district opponents. 14 games into this season, the Mustangs are 8-6, but they have five losses in the district. Those losses will have an effect on their seeding in the district playoffs.
Offense and a deep pitching roster with longevity in games have been keys to the Mustangs’ improved overall record, according to Head Coach Adam Amerine.
“Offensively we are getting more production throughout the entire order,” Amerine said. “And our pitchers have done a nice job going deeper into games and pitching out of jams.”
Amerine said senior outfielder Nick Bourbeau, senior infielder Lucas Cherry, and senior infielder/outfielder/pitcher Vijay Menon have been key players for the Mustangs so far this season.
“[They’ve] been top of the order guys on offense and have been finding ways to get on base to score runs,” Amerine said.
Although the Mustangs are out of the running for the regular season district championship and top seed in the district playoffs, they could still vie for a top seed in the post-season if they win the majority of the games remaining on their schedule. They play William Monroe High School at William Monroe on Friday, Rappahannock County High School at home next Tuesday, Clarke County High School at home next Wednesday, Strasburg High School at home next Friday, and end the season at Clarke County on May 14. Of those teams William Monroe, Rappahannock County, and Strasburg are three of the top four teams in the district.
The Mustangs downgraded to junior varsity because they weren’t able to field a team at the varsity level, according to Head Coach Zack Barrett. Barrett took a few of the players who played on the varsity team last season, combined them with the U-15 team, and has coached a team of sophomore, freshmen, and eighth graders to a winning record so far this season.
“We’re playing a less competitive schedule and winning a few games,” Barrett said. “The morale is good, and the boys are actually playing like a team.”
According to Barrett, freshman goalkeeper Dan Dunsberry and sophomore defender Paul Patterson, who have stepped up defense, and another sophomore, long stick midfielder Jackson Jost, have been key in leading the team to a 3-2 record. “[Jost] plays every corner of the field,” Barrett said.
Barrett said “the team [has] embraced the downgrade to junior varsity rather than mope about it.”
“Some of these guys played varsity last year and could’ve complained and gotten down about it,” Barrett said. “But they seem to view it as a chance to rebuild the program from the ground up. The coaches are real proud of them for stepping up and taking advantage of the opportunity.”
The remaining games on the Mustangs’ schedule are an away game against The Potomac School next Monday and a home game next Thursday against Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School.
With one game left in the regular season, the girls varsity lacrosse team will fall short of its pre-season goal of finishing the season with a winning record. The Mustangs still have a chance to finish with a better record than 5-7, which was their record last season, when they play John Champe High School tomorrow night.
“The girls need to play well the entire game, not just one half,” said Head Coach Courtney Gibbons.
The Mustangs have also fared better in the second half of the regular season than they did in the first. In the first six games of the season, the Mustangs were 2-4 but have gone 3-3 in their last six games.
“The girls are playing better as a team. They’ve been applying what we work on each day at practice to the games,” Gibbons said.
Since going on a four-game losing streak early in the season, the Mustangs have gone 4-3. Gibbons said the team had a long talk after their game against Washington-Lee High School, which was the last team to beat the Mustangs during that losing streak.
“We talked about playing with heart and the importance of team unity,” Gibbons said. “Everyone needs to be on the same page and support each other on and off the field.”
The Mason softball and track and field teams did not respond to requests for interview.