The George Mason High School boys varsity soccer team pushed its record to 2-0-1 in the Bull Run District after a late goal by bruised and bloodied freshman Alex Casteuble lifted the Mustangs to a 1-0 home victory over the rival Clarke County Eagles.
After dominating time of possession throughout the game, but creating surprisingly few scoring opportunities, the Mustangs capitalized on a golden chance in the match’s 73rd minute. Taking the ball up the right sideline then cutting back across the middle of the 18-yard box, Mason’s Antonio Randrianasolo passed the ball into a scrum of players about six yards from the goal line. Eddie Huber collected the ball amid the defenders and, with no clean shot for himself, push the ball to the left side of the goal box and a wide open Casteuble. The freshman calmly approached the ball and struck a well-placed shot along the ground, past Clarke County goalie Ray Smetanick and into the net.
“I knew right when I saw it I had to put it in,” Casteuble said, his nose stuffed with cotton after sustaining a blow to the face in the final 20 minutes. “It felt like my face had been hit by a train.”
The goal was a welcome relief for the Mustangs, who, to that point, had dominated the field but had nothing to show for it. About three minutes into the game, Mason wrested the momentum from Clarke and rarely relinquished it. The Mustangs won the vast majority of 50-50 balls and were clearly more aggressive in pressuring Clarke, often forcing them into turning the ball back over.
The lopsided time of possession margin relative to the Mustangs’ few scoring chances left Mason Head Coach Art Iwanicki disgruntled after the game.
“We controlled the possession, but we didn’t control the striking,” Iwanicki said. “I’m fairly displeased with the game, but we gutted it out.”
The Mustangs struggled with set pieces all night long, rarely scaring the Eagles with corner kicks and blasting free kicks well over the cross bar.
Failing to convert on so many opportunities left the door open for the Eagles and it appeared the pieces were falling into place for a crushing Mason defeat despite superlative effort. That was particularly true at the 55-minute mark when Clarke’s Andres Contreras appeared ready to take control of the contest. Beating one defender down the left side of the field, Contreras cut back to his right, teeing up a shot in the middle of the field from about 18 yards out. Contreras got off a strong effort, but put it right into Mason senior goaltender Eric Casteuble’s midsection. The Mustang goalie thwarted Contreras again five minutes later, positioning himself well to easily snare a beautiful strike by Contreras off of a free kick that curled over Mason’s five-man wall and on net.
Eric Casteuble finished with six saves on the night to earn the shutout.
The Mason victory came in front of a crowd that was both smaller and more docile than past years when the rivalry evoked raucous cheers from packed bleachers and often required police oversight. For this contest, Iwanicki said he counted 39 spectators during the playing of that national anthem.
“That’s a pet peeve of mine,” Iwanicki said. “Where are the parents? Where are the fans?”
The Mustangs will look to entice supporters of the program with another key home match next Tuesday against Rappahannock. The two teams are currently knotted atop the Bull Run District standings with matching records of 2-0-1, with the lone tie the result of an April 13 match between the Panthers and the Mustangs.
Mason’s first win of the Bull Run District season came last Friday in a rescheduled home game against Strasburg. The Mustangs prevailed 3-0 behind goals from Anthony Andriarason, Eddie Huber and Jon Brooks. Elio Randrianasolo added two assists. Eric Casteuble notched just one save behind a stalwart defense to grab the shutout.
The Mustangs next face Manassas Park on the road next Monday night, one day prior to their show down against Rappahannock.