By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys soccer team is the number one team in the Bull Run District going into the post-season. The Mustangs finished the regular season with three wins in the past week starting with a 3-1 victory over Strasburg High School last Friday.
Three George Mason juniors – midfielder Paul Darmstadter, striker Cole Hinson and midfielder/striker Sinan Kokuuslu – handled the scoring for the Mustangs. Paul Darmstadter assisted with Hinson and Kokuuslu’s goals and was assisted by senior midfielder Henry Darmstadter on his goal.
“I thought we overcame a lot because we had about an hour and a half of rain delay before we started,” said Head Coach Frank Spinello. The game was shortened to one half because of heavy rains.
The weather had dried up by Monday when the Mustangs took on Rappahannock County High School. But the game still ended early, because the Mustangs scored eight goals while holding Panthers scoreless through 60 minutes of play. Paul Darmstadter, Kokuuslu, junior striker Paul Sanders, junior midfielder Ben Mitchell, and freshman striker Raheem Lawal all scored one goal each in the match. The Darmstadter brothers, Mitchell, and sophomore defenders Henderson Beam and Patrick Pereddo all assisted with goals against the Panthers. But it was junior striker Cole Hinson who led the Mustang offense with a hat trick and two assists.
Hinson became the leading scorer on the team with 17 goals after his performance against Rappahannock County. He hasn’t missed a game this season, which is in stark contrast to last season when he missed the majority of the season with an injury he suffered in a scrimmage at the beginning of the season. His freshman year he was an honorable mention to the all-state team, but didn’t play enough during his sophomore season to be considered for any post-season honors.
“This season I’m really excited to be able to prove that I can play the whole season and show that I’m one of the leading players in the area. … It’s great to play the whole season with my teammates,” Hinson said.
Spinello said the team was able to maintain possession and play dangerous penetrating passes that led to the majority of their goals.
“Most of our goals were quick passes through and then a change in direction and then a score,” Spinello said. He said that the game against the Panthers and their game on Tuesday against Clarke County High School were culminations of the team’s goal to get better every week throughout the season. The Mustangs beat the Eagles 5-0 on Tuesday.
“I thought we had our best match of the year and I thought everybody contributed,” Spinello said. “Guys were coming off the bench and playing like they’re full-time starters.”
Lawal initiated the team’s scoring after receiving a pass from Hinson in the 11th minute. He dribbled around and over a few Eagle defenders before scoring the first goal of the match. Sophomore midfielder Kavon Nowroozi scored the Mustangs’ second goal in the 25th minute after Lawal crossed the ball to Hinson, who dribbled the ball for a few seconds before passing it to Nowroozi for the score. The score was 2-0 at halftime.
The Mustangs’ third goal came five minutes into the second half when Henry Darmstadter launched the ball into the penalty box. Lawal received Darmstadter’s pass and shot at the goalie, who deflected the ball to Kokuuslu. Kokuuslu knocked the rebound in for his first goal of what became a hat trick. Kokuuslu scored in the 48th minute off of an assist from Nowroozi and scored again in the 76th minute on another rebound from a shot deflect by the Eagles’ goalkeeper.
“Our goal tonight was to possess with a purpose, to play Mason soccer, and we did just that,” Kokuuslu said. “We came out here on fire. We came out here to end the [regular] season on fire.”
The Eagles crossed the ball into the penalty box from corner kicks on several occasions, but had their scoring opportunities cut short when senior goalkeeper Sebastian Umerez charged out of the goal to block the ball out of scoring range. He said he does this because he is actually weak on defending against corner kicks and prefers to get the ball out of scoring range as quickly as possible. Umerez, who played his last regular season home game on Tuesday, said it was great to see younger Mustang players make up the offensive efforts against the Eagles.
“It really gives me a lot of hope for keeping this Mason tradition alive: being the elite,” Umerez said.
The Mustangs play Rappahannock County in the first round of the district playoffs on Friday night.