by Ian Graig
A very successful season for the George Mason High School varsity field hockey team came to a close as the Mustangs lost in the VHSL Group 4A North regional quarterfinals to a very tough Eastern View High School team.
Eastern View, owners of an 18-1 record and winners of their conference, defeated the Mustangs 6-0 in Culpeper on Tuesday, ending a season in which Mason made its first appearances in the VHSL Conference 24 final and in the regional playoffs.
The game against Eastern View featured many fine saves by Mason’s two goaltenders: junior Caroline Duffett played an excellent first half, while sophomore Rachel Skomra, who stopped an Eastern View penalty shot, was just as tough in the second half.
Senior Caroline Jarrard and junior Caroline Stricker had very strong games on defense and senior Emma Graig saved a goal by swatting an Eastern View shot out of the air.
Stricker, seniors Angelika Johns and Eleanor Langford, juniors Darcy Jones, Caroline Stricker and Julianne Kelly and sophomore Sarah Lubnow threatened the Eastern View goal several times, but Mason was never able to score against the Cyclones. The Mustangs received well-deserved support from a large and boisterous group of fans who made the trek to Culpeper to cheer them on.
Mason had earned a spot in the regional playoffs by making it to the Conference 24 final last Thursday against Bruton High School.
The Mustangs played an extremely strong game against Bruton, prompting the Bruton coach to call a timeout just two minutes into the game after Mason put intense pressure on his team.
Duffett made several outstanding saves and the Mason defense managed to hold off countless Bruton corners.
Jones, Stricker, Kelly and junior Callie Gaskins led the Mustangs’ attack. Despite the 3-0 loss to Bruton, the Mustangs received praise from a tough Bruton crowd for a hard-fought contest.
The Mustangs notched several achievements in their second year as a varsity program, including a 12-3 regular season record. The team went 2-12 in its first season.
Mason defeated several larger schools this year and proved to be a tough opponent for some of the finest field hockey programs among Virginia’s Group 2A-4A schools.
Mason’s defense was very tough all year, posting seven shutouts and giving up only one goal in five other games. And the opportunistic Mason offense often took advantage of quick rushes up field and, in many games, wore down opponents with relentless pressure on their goal.
Several Mason players received recognition for their play this year. Mason had three first-team all-conference players: Emma Graig, Caroline Stricker and Sarah Lubnow, who was Mason’s top goal scorer this year.
Four Mason players received second-team all-conference honors: Darcy Jones, Caroline Jarrard, Caroline Duffett and Julianne Kelly. In addition, Mason goalkeeper Rachel Skomra received honorable mention all-conference honors.
It will be difficult for Mason to replace its five graduating seniors, but Coach Amanda Crider has a strong group of juniors and sophomores and several outstanding junior varsity players.
This year’s many accomplishments should build the foundation for a strong Mason field hockey program for years to come.
The Mustangs are hosting a free clinic this Saturday, Nov. 8, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at Mason’s stadium. Girls of all ages are invited to come learn the basics of field hockey from Crider and members of the varsity field hockey team.