By Drew Costley
When Jennifer Parsons, head coach of George Mason High School’s girls varsity soccer team, took over the team in 2007 she didn’t set out to break any records. But that’s what she did on Sunday after the Mustangs won their sixth straight state championship.
“It definitely isn’t something you set out to do when you start,” Parsons said. “But I think every team has earned their own championship. I don’t know – it’s pretty cool to be in such a unique category.”
The 2013 Mustangs finished earning their championship by beating Stuarts Draft High School 4-0 in the single-A state finals. They also earned a record by extending their old record of five consecutive state titles to six. This made the Mustangs the first varsity soccer team in Virginia of any level of competition or gender to win six consecutive state championships. George Mason has eight girls’ soccer state championships in total, the most of any school in any division in Virginia.
An important part of the title run, according to Parsons, is the fact that now three classes of girls have graduated from George Mason after winning four consecutive state titles with the team.
“I think it’s pretty special once it extends over the four-year mark,” Parsons said. “So you can’t just attribute it to a specific class of girls. It’s classes of girls that have come and gone.” Seniors Hailey Thomas and Maggie Mascarenhas, who were four-year varsity players, headed up this class of seniors.
“I’m really proud to be a part of that and to be a part of such a great program and fortunate to have such great girls [throughout] my experience coaching,” Parsons said.
This season the Mustangs faced Radford High School in the semifinal round of the state championships. The Bobcats got their first goal-scoring opportunity in the 18th minute and used it to score the first goal of the match. It was only the fifth time the Mustangs were behind all season. Every other time the Mustangs didn’t score the first goal of the game, they lost.
“For them to seize and capitalize on their one chance when we probably had five or six at that point was a wake-up call for the girls,” Parsons said. “And [they thought] you know this really could be your last game. You really are playing for your life in this game.”
The Mustangs heeded the call. Junior midfielder/striker Claire Trevisan scored the first goal in the 20th minute after receiving a through ball from freshman defender Annie Washa.
Trevisan put the Mustangs’ offense on her back, as she has done at other critical points in the season, and scored the game-winning goal in the 60th minute of the match. Trevisan, an honorable mention selection to The Washington Post’s All-Met team, shot from about 18 yards out and hit the upper part of the net.
By beating the Bobcats despite their home-field advantage, the Mustangs punched their ticket to the state championship against Stuarts Draft. The Mustangs beat the Cougars 2-0 to win the Region B championship a little more than a week earlier. But they had less than 24 hours to recover from playing in 80 degree weather on Saturday for the state finals.
Similar to the Region B championship, most of the first half of the state championship was scoreless. Despite out-shooting the Cougars 20-1, the Mustangs had nothing to show for it, which lent itself to a sense of nervousness, Parsons said.
Junior midfielder Camille Rice broke that tension in the last minute of the half, though, with a shot high into the Cougars’ goal to put the Mustangs ahead 1-0. Rice, who spent most of this season recovering from an injury, has been a key offensive player for the Mustangs in the postseason and worked her way into a starting position in the state finals.
“I was so happy for her,” Parsons said. She said Rice’s impact on the team since returning to the field is an “attest to her hard work and perseverance.”
Sophomore forward Ava Roth found Trevisan in the 47th minute, putting the Mustangs ahead 2-0. Roth scored the Mustangs’ third goal in the 49th minute after Trevisan found the team’s second leading scorer with a through ball. Mascarenhas, a key offensive player for the Mustangs throughout their postseason run, crossed the ball to freshman Ella Howard in the 76th minute. Howard took the ball and scored the Mustangs’ final score of the match.
“I’ve really seen the team grow into a cohesive unit in terms of working for each other and not focused on individual accolades and standout kind of stuff like that or stats,” Parsons said. “They just wanted that end goal of the state championship.”