Last year, George Mason High School’s boys soccer team played their hearts out in a battle for the state championship against Manassas Park High School, but couldn’t win the title. Last Friday, they traveled to Manassas Park to take on the team once again for Mason’s first district game of the season.
“We knew this game would set the tone for the rest of the season, so we wanted to come out with everything we had,” said senior captain Eion Oosterbaan.
Despite star-scoring threat sophomore Cole Hinson being out with a concussion, the Mustangs started with fire in their hearts looking to prove themselves.
They came out controlling the ball and dominating, but Manassas Park struck first with a goal off of a free kick. Mason still continued to aggressively pursue the goal.
A corner kick taken by junior Henry Darmstadter flew to sophomore Paul Sanders, who headed the ball to Oosterbaan. Oosterbaan trapped the ball in the six-yard box and drove the ball into the back of the net. The goal ended the half with the teams tied 1-1.
Early in the second half, Manassas scored again to take the lead, 2-1. Mason remained tough through rough play and kept pushing for a goal.
“I think the game was so physical because both teams had such a great desire to win,” Sanders said.
With a strong defense including freshman defensive midfielder Ned Quill and junior goalkeeper Sebastian Umerez behind them, Mason was able to gain many opportunities to strike goal. Sophomore Sinan Kokuuslu drew a penalty in the box after being brought down, which gave Oosterbaan a chance to take a penalty shot and tie the game.
“I feel very confident when I step up to take a penalty kick,” Oosterbaan said. “I work on them nearly everyday and they almost feel automatic at this point.”
Oosterbaan tied up the game with a shot to the upper right corner. “Your teammates and your coach put their utmost trust in you when you take a penalty kick, and it feels good to reward them,” Oosterbaan said.
The score held at 2-2 for the rest of the half, pushing the game into overtime.
“We were all definitely exhausted and tired during overtime, but also very excited,” Quill said.
Mason fought throughout the first half of overtime, but a quick goal from Manassas Park at the beginning of the second half finalized Mason’s loss, 3-2.
“While we are very disappointed to have come up short in this game, we should be proud of the way we battled for 90-plus minutes,” Oosterbaan said. “We gave the defending state champs a run for their money, and let them know that we’re here to take that trophy back.”
The Mustangs will host Broad Run High School Friday and travel to Central High School next Tuesday.