After 80 minutes of fast-paced and physical soccer, in the end, it was the George Mason High School varsity girls soccer team that stood victorious, finally besting Clarke County to win the Bull Run District regular season title, 2-1, at Moore Cadillac Stadium on Tuesday night.
Earlier this month, the two squads battled to a 3-3 tie in Berryville, but the Mustangs played nearly the entire game down one man after a red card. This time, on their senior night, the Mustangs came out determined to shut down the Eagles and senior Danielle Moyer.
The Mustangs did more than shut her down though, as they made the all-state forward close to invisible. Juniors Abby Stroup and Kim Kenny marked Moyer throughout the game, stopping the same player who scored two goals in the first meeting between the two squads.
“It all started from our defense,” said Mustang junior forward Mayssa Chehata, who put her team on the board with a first-half goal. “From there, we were able to build up our offense. It’s always a fight between us, but we just came out on top this time.”
In the 28th minute, Chehata gathered an ill-advised Eagle clear in the middle of the field, split the defenders, and found the back of the net for a 1-0 Mason lead.
The Mustangs’ firepower carried through to the second half, when freshman Violet Miller tore through the Clarke defense a mere 10 seconds in, deftly touching one into the left panel of the netting for a lead her team would never relinquish.
Midway through the second half, an Eagle ricochet off the hands of Mustang goalie Faunice Rebecca Jackson led to Clarke’s only goal. Jackson stopped the initial shot but could not control the rebound, allowing Clarke to capitalize.
Jackson returned from a severe knee injury to hold her ground between the posts all night.
Like the earlier contest, Clarke repeatedly tried to find Moyer with the long pass, but the tactic was ineffective on Tuesday. Mason completely dominated possession, which opened up numerous opportunities against the Eagle defense.
“We definitely needed this win,” said Mason coach Jennifer Parsons. “I told the team that this was the deciding game for the rest of the season. This was the best way the game could have gone for us.”
With the win, the Mustangs clinch a Region B birth, but it will not likely be the last chapter of the storied Clarke-Mason rivalry, that had been exceedingly one-sided in Clarke’s favor of late. The regular season title is the first for Mason since 2002, though the Mustangs won the Bull Run District Tournament in 2006. The teams met five times last season, with Clarke winning all of the matches.
However, this season, as Mason’s team shirts indicate, it could be Mason’s “time.”
“Our shirts say that it’s our time, and it’s finally our time,” said senior captain Rachel Kazman, who went wide-eyed and silent when asked to describe the game. “As a captain, as a senior, I couldn’t be happier.”
On Monday, the Mustangs tuned-up for the Clarke game with a 12-0 trouncing over Strasburg. Virginia Fresne, Miller, Lauren Jekowsky, Kazman, Kenny and Olivia Scott all had goals, while Stroup scored her first of the season with a rocket from 20 yards out.
For now, with a day off on Wednesday, the victory over the Eagles remains sweet in the minds of the Mustang faithful. Senior Stephanie Pinch, a transfer from Yorktown, best embodied the feeling, shouting after the game in exuberance.
“What’s that feeling?” she said. “Oh, it’s winning. I like that.”