Sports

After Sublime Season, GMHS Girls Lax Stunned in Playoffs

A-Sports---Mason-Girls-Lax-useOn Monday, May 24, Monticello High School dropped George Mason High by a 14-12 final score in a seesaw girls varsity lacrosse regional playoff game. For the Mustangs, the game’s outcome represented the culmination of a stunning turn of events.

 

A-Sports---Mason-Girls-Lax-use

District MVP Gwen Edwards, No. 11, against Monticello. Edwards had 67 goals and 22 assists this year, and had three goals and one assist against Monticello. (Photo: News-Press)

On Monday, May 24, Monticello High School dropped George Mason High by a 14-12 final score in a seesaw girls varsity lacrosse regional playoff game. For the Mustangs, the game’s outcome represented the culmination of a stunning turn of events.

After triumphing in a couple of tight games, but generally dispatching the opposition by lopsided margins, the Mustangs claimed a regular season Dulles District title with an unblemished 15-0 record

In one of their few close contests this season, the Mustangs edged Broad Run by a single goal in early April.

Broad Run turned the tables in the Dulles District tournament championship on May 19, upending the Mustangs by a 15-11 final score.

In the championship, the Mustangs led during the first half and secured a halftime advantage of 9-6.

But the Spartans began building momentum at the start of the second, first tying the game at 10-10, then continuing to score while holding the Mustangs to only two goals for the remainder of the game.

The Mason offense struggled to find scoring opportunities as Broad Run began winning the majority of the draws and as a result kept the Mustang D on its heels, fighting a seemingly never-ending barrage of volleys from the Broad Run offense during the last quarter of the game.

At the conclusion of the game, Mason was presented with the Dulles District Regular Season District Championship Trophy, and Broad Run was presented with the Dulles District Tournament Championship Trophy.

Despite losing in the championship game, Mason advanced to regional playoff competition due to the team’s undefeated regular season, becoming the first Mustangs girls lacrosse squad ever to advance to the regionals.

Play was even throughout George Mason’s first-round AA Regional Tournament game against Monticello.

Mason led by one for much of the early going and took a slim 7-6 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Mason maintained its precarious advantage for most of the way, and at one point went up by two goals, but after numerous lead changes the game was deadlocked at 11-11 with about three minutes left.

At that point, Mason senior Christina Perez made a beautiful play to put her team up one.

Perez snagged an interception around midfield and ran it all the way back to the goal, dodging and twisting between defenders before firing the shot that gave her team a 12-11 lead with 2:58 left.

Perez and Taylor Bottock paced Mason with four goals apiece in the contest.

With around 100 boisterous fans chanting encouragement, the home Mustangs seemed set to eke out a narrow win.

But Monticello knotted the game again with just over a minute left after carefully passing the ball around behind the net during a long, deliberate offensive possession.

Seconds later, the Mason D gave way again in the face of another Monticello attack, surrendering the go-ahead goal.

When Mason pressed defensively at midfield to try to get the ball back with time winding down, Monticello was able to get a fast break, an easy score, and a 14-12 win.

Senior center Gwen Edwards had three goals and one assist for Mason in the game, but Monticello was able to bottle-up another Mason star: Junior defender and midfielder Abby Johansen was held to just one goal and an assist in the game as a result of Monticello’s strategy of double and triple-teaming Johansen on nearly every play.

It was Johansen’s lowest scoring output of the year.

Senior goalie Meghan Powell made 13 saves for Mason in the loss.

Mason head coach Courtney Gibbons, who was recently honored as the Dulles District Coach of the Year, described her team as shocked in the wake of the postseason defeat.

Mason’s players were clearly crestfallen after the game, showing their emotions plainly, as did Gibbons.

“It wasn’t the other team,” Gibbons averred the game, seeking to explain why her team finally faltered.

“We played hard and we played with heart, but we didn’t come with the lacrosse that we’ve been playing. We had trouble getting to the cage and we let them score on us. You’re not going to come out on top when that happens. We were ready; it was just that we came up short. Usually we can pull it out in the end, but today it wasn’t there.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” the coach continued. “They played their hearts out all year and they made school history. The season ended up shorter than we expected, but we’ll move on. We’ll miss the seniors greatly, but we’ll be back next year.”

A quick look at the Dulles All-District Team indicates just how much Mason will miss its seniors.

Mason senior Gwen Edwards was named District MVP, and her classmates Taylor Bottock, Chelsea Wilkes, Katrina Snyder and Meghan Powell were all honored as members of the All-District Team. Johansen, a junior, was also named to the team

For the season, Edwards notched a total of 67 goals and 22 assists, Johansen had 63 and 25 assists, and Powell made 146 saves, putting all three in the AllMet top 50 leaders list.

Mason is a “single A school”: the smallest school-size classification in the state. Mason is the only A school with a lacrosse program, and as a result, the Mustangs compete against students from the larger schools in the class AA Dulles District.

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