For the George Mason High School girls soccer team, the early season is a time of figuring things out. Of getting their footing.
Of getting ready for another run at a championship.
The Mustangs, who have won threes consecutive Virginia Group A state titles, know that the season is a long haul, and each match in March leads ultimately to possible success in May and June.
Take for instance the team’s game against Kettle Run High School last Friday. The 3-1 victory against an opponent that head coach Jennifer Parsons likens to Mason rivals Clarke County and Madison County was only secondary to getting the team to gel early.
“We learned a lot,” said Parsons. “It was a challenge. It was a good game.”
After a goal in the 39th minute by Hannah Walker from an Ellie Silverman assist, the Mustangs came alive mid-way through the second half. In a six-minute span, Miska Chehata and Leah Roth each found the back of the net, both coming from Violet Miller assists.
Roth had recently returned from playing with the girls basketball team, which reached the state semifinals, and Parsons wants last year’s top goal scorer and her assist leader Miller to get on the same page. Walker and Silverman were also recovering from injury and needed time to get back in the flow.
“It took us that long for our offense to click,” Parsons said of the late-match outburst.
Goalkeeper Veronica O’Rourke added nine saves for the Mustangs.
Mason faces off with Kettle Run again, this time on the road on Friday. The rapid rematch will give Mason a feel for the pacing of Bull Run District play later in the season.
“We have a few weaknesses, a few tings to work on,” Parsons said. “It definitely wasn’t an easy game by any means.”
On Thursday, Mason welcomes Loudoun Valley High, a large school that plays at the Group AA level and is accustomed to deep runs in the post season.
“They’re a good team,” Parsons said.
Against competition like Loudoun Valley, Mason will be tested for the duration of the match.
“Can’t take time off,” Parsons said. “It’s easy to get complacent.”
Last season, Mason faced Loudoun Valley early in the year. The result was a 6-0 defeat, a distant memory by the time the squad won its third straight state title.
“I don’t think it’s bad to lose games at all,” Parsons said. “It’s good for us to learn where we need to tighten up.”
Mason High’s next home game is this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Loudoun Valley High.