The George Mason High School boys varsity soccer team negotiated two more obstacles to their pending perfect season in the past week, topping both Madison County and Strasburg by 2-0 margins to clinch the Bull Run District regular season title.
The games were the sixth and seventh shutouts of the year for freshman Mason goaltender Tyler Back, and the Mustangs badly needed his stellar play last Friday against Madison County.
Back made several breakaway and point blank saves to keep his team in the game early while the Mustang offense took its time warming up.
Both teams were kept off the board when the halftime whistle sounded, but in the match's 60th minute, senior defensive back Wesley Frank broke the scoreless tie with a boot from 12-yards out. The goal capped what Mason Assistant Coach Frank Spinello estimated as a 65-yard run from the back with the ball. Frank beat two Mountaineer defenders, then faked out three more before ripping the twine behind the Madison County keeper.
Ten minutes later, sophomore midfielder Alex Casteuble gave Mason some insurance when he scored on a free kick into the upper right corner of the goal.
Back finished the Madison game with eight saves and repeated the clean sheet against Strasburg on Tuesday. The Mustangs dominated possession, recording 39 shots to the Rams' seven and earning 14 corner kicks to the Rams' 0. It was only the sterling play of Strasburg goalie Phil Ramsey that kept the score close.
Mason's Matt Gresko put the Mustangs ahead 1-0 when he headed home a cross from Nick Smirniotopoulos in the 48th minute. The Mustangs struck again in the 64th minute when freshman Patrick Rollo buried a cross from Frank.
Mason (9-2-1 overall, 8-0 Bull Run) has just two games remaining on its regular season slate at home against Rappahannock (Friday, May 9) and on the road at Clarke County (Tuesday, May 13). Friday's game will serve as the team's Senior Day, and also marks the 1,000th game of Head Coach Art Iwanicki's coaching career.
“I came into the job with a lot of soccer knowledge and experience, but what Coach I has really helped me with is organization and team management issues, which I lacked,” said Spinello, who has worked with Iwanicki since 2000. “Coach I has definitely made George Mason High School Boys Soccer the premier Single A soccer program in the state. He does it all with pride, class and integrity.”
Note: Perhaps as satisfying as the pair of district wins was last Wednesday's tie against highly touted AAA Robinson Secondary School, who brought a mark of 5-2-1 into the match with the Mustangs. Casteuble and senior Antonio Randrianasolo helped Mason build a first-half, two-goal lead with tallies in the sixth and 20th minutes, but the Rams answered with two goals in the second half to knot things up.