Sports

Mason Boys Soccer Advances

After being upset in the state tournament by King William last season, the George Mason High School boys’ soccer team returned this season more focused to avoid such a collapse. If the Mustangs’ recent win over Region B opponent Wilson Memorial is any indication, they are up to the challenge.sports_soccer1

After being upset in the state tournament by King William last season, the George Mason High School boys’ soccer team returned this season more focused to avoid such a collapse. If the Mustangs’ recent win over Region B opponent Wilson Memorial is any indication, they are up to the challenge.

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BATTLING RAIN AND AN OLD FOE, Mason’s victory on Monday night propelled the team to the regional semifinal against Nelson County Wednesday night. (Photo: News-Press)

After cruising through the Bull Run District tournament, capped off by a 3-0 win over Manassas Park in the final, Mason turned its attention to host the Green Hornets in the quarterfinals of the regional tournament on Monday.

In a defense-first match eerily similar to the one in which Mason blanked Wilson Memorial, 1-0, in 2007, the Mustangs cruised at home last Monday, 2-0, to move on to the regional semifinals, one win away from the single A state tournament.

With a slight rain trickling down on Memorial Day, the pace of the game refused to slow down, as both teams came out with high intensity. Mason took an early lead in the contest when a throw-in from senior defenseman Jack Cashin found the head of junior Andrew Arias, who promptly deposited it into the back of the net past the Wilson keeper, giving the Mustangs an early 1-0 lead.

After Arias’ tally, the game became a battle in the middle of the field, with both teams attacking at will but falling just short of putting any goals up on the board. However, with Mason coming out of the break clinging on to its short lead, the second half started with a burst of energy, evidenced by the numerous fouls called against both squads.

“We can’t take days off, we got to play each and every game like it’s our last day,” senior co-captain Anthony Andrianarison said. “Especially for the seniors, because we won’t have another chance.”

Thirty minutes into the game, speedy senior Elio was fouled outside the Hornets penalty box, giving junior Alex Casteuble a shot at the net, but his free kick just missed the net on the right side.

In the 71st minute, Hornets junior Charles G. Davis had a great opportunity to score and even the game out. On a counterattack off a Mustang break, Davis chipped a shot over the outstretched arms of Mason goalkeeper Tyler Back, which barely sailed over the crossbar.

With five minutes left in the game, Mason made a final offensive assault on the left side of the field and Cashin sent the ball to middle for Arias, who deflected it and gave Mason a 2-0 lead.

“Andrew Arias, he had the mental toughness for us today. He came out and wanted the ball, but it was also a great game and a huge team effort,” a pleased assistant coach Frank Spinello said after the game.

“We played our hearts out, and I know when we got knocked out last year it was a terrible feeling,” Arias added. “I didn’t want to see our seniors’ faces if we lost. I think this the year we can go all the way.”

Last Thursday, the Mustangs clinched the Bull Run District tournament title with its victory over Manassas Park. Playing without its leading scorer, junior Nick Smirniotopoulos, Mason struck first in the 33rd minute when Casteuble found the back of the net. Andrianarison came out firing in the second half, scoring the second goal in the 43rd minute off a strike just inside the 18 off an Arias corner kick. Sophomore Jordan Robarge netted the final tally, heading in a Casteuble free kick down the stretch.

“After the first goal, they kept on playing, but we talked about it at halftime that whoever scored the second goal would win,” Randrianasolo said. “Anthony’s goal was pretty big, I’m really proud of him for that. Once he scored that goal, I was thinking that we just won that game, so I told Coach to take me out, because the game was over at that point.”

The win came days after a lackluster performance by the Mustangs, who needed overtime to beat Clarke County at home, 1-0. Mason, who had defeated the Eagles by a combined score of 8-1 during the regular season, claimed to fall victim to a lack of focus, something they strove to maintain against the Cougars.

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MASON SOPHOMORE MIDFIELDER Jordan Robarge sets up for a corner kick during Monday’s soaked game against WIlson Memorial. (Photo: News-Press)

“We talked about it in practice the next day after Clarke that we couldn’t play around anymore,” Randrianasolo said. “It’s a playoff game, win or go home. We came out two hours early, that we have to stay focused and come out strong and win. We stepped up pretty good. Every single person who came out on the field played their hardest and as a captain, I’m pretty proud of that.”

“We were ready from the start, before we even got on the field, when we were in the room preparing for the game,” Andrianarison added. “We were just focused today. We’re hoping to go all the way, but we got to play like it’s our last game every day, like we did [against Manassas].

Following the district final, Andrianarison received his third-consecutive District Player of the Year trophy. He was joined on the All-District First Team by Back, Randrianasolo and Smirniotopoulos. Arias, Casteuble, and sophomore Patrick Rollo were named to the Second Team as well.

“Getting that award and the district championship means so much to me,” Andrianarison said. “I wouldn’t have done it without any of these guys, any of my teammates. It’s not just me, it’s all of them.”

With the win over Wilson Memorial, Mason advanced to the regional semifinals, played at Nelson County yesterday, May 27, with results too late for press. The Mustangs downed Nelson last year in penalty kicks, one season after Governors knocked Mason out of the Region tournament, 3-0.

– Alex Prewitt contributed to this report.

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