By Drew Costley
George Mason High School’s boys varsity soccer team lost to Manassas Park High School 2-1 on Tuesday. It was the George Mason Mustangs’ first loss to a district opponent since the 2012 Bull Run District semifinals, when they lost 3-2 to the Manassas Park Cougars.
George Mason Head Coach Frank Spinello said the Mustangs (5-1, 5-1) dominated the first 20-25 minutes of the match against the Cougars (4-0-1, 4-0-1), but then stopped playing “Mason football.”
“When we played direct we allowed them to do the same (which is their strength), and we ended up chasing too much,” Spinello said. “We were able to settle down in the last 20 minutes of the match and play our brand of football, and it led to our goal and a lot of scoring chances.”
But, Spinello said, the Cougars’ goalkeeper had a great match and was able to hold the Mustangs to one goal
“If we had scored on one of our early chances, it could have been a very different outcome,” Spinello said. “But tonight was their night and not ours. Tonight Manassas Park wanted to win more than we did and that was the biggest difference.”
Senior midfielder Paul Darmstadter scored the Mustangs’ lone goal off of an assist from junior defender Ned Quill. George Mason junior goalkeeper Daniel Donovan had 11 saves against the Cougars.
The Mustangs faced the Cougars a night after routing Rappahannock County High School 9-0 on Monday.
“We had periods of domination, but also some times where we were a little bit flat and complacent,” Spinello said. “Our possession and defensive pressure in the midfield made the difference. We made a lot of very good penetrating passes that we were able to capitalize on.”
Sophomore striker Elliot Mercado led the Mustangs in scoring with five goals against the Rappahannock County Panthers (0-6, 0-6) and Darmstadter followed that up with four goals. Sophomore midfielder Grant Goodwin assisted on three of the Mustangs’ goals and freshman midfielder Olo Sembera assisted with two of the Mustangs’ goals against the Panthers.
Darmstadter, senior striker/midfielder Sinan Kokuuslu, junior midfielder/defender Matteo D’Agostino, junior striker Donal Reyes de Leon and freshman midfielder/defender Nico Ferrara assisted with a goal apiece in the match.
The Mustangs gave up their first goal of the regular season in their 8-1 victory last Friday over Central High School. Spinello said he was very pleased with the Mustangs’ performance against the Central Falcons (3-1-1, 3-1-1) – he said possession and patience were keys to his team’s victory in the match.
“We pressured the ball well to cause turnovers, and when we won the ball we were able to maintain possession long enough to open gaps in their defense,” Spinello said. “Our finishing was very good and very clean.”
Darmstadter led the Mustangs in scoring with three goals and sophomore striker Raheem Lawal followed that up with two goals against the Falcons. Reyes de Leon, Sembera, and Mercado scored a goal each in the match.
Mercado led the Mustangs in assists with three against the Falcons. Lawal, Sembera, D’Agostino, and senior midfielder Jorge Nieto had one assist each in the match.
The Mustangs play Bull Run District rival Clarke County High School tonight. George Mason High School is on spring break next week and so are the Mustangs – they’ll resume play on April 22 in a road match against the Madison County High School and host Strasburg High School at home the next day.