by Liz Lizama
The George Mason High School varsity boys soccer team swept through the VHSL 2A state tournament at Radford University this weekend. The Mustangs shut out Gate City High School 6-0 in Friday’s semifinal followed by a 4-0 victory in Saturday’s final against Martinsville High School, earning the team its third consecutive state title.
In Friday’s game, the Mustangs came ready to defeat the Gate City Blue Devils. Junior forward Elliot Mercado scored a goal just two minutes into the game, giving Mason an early lead. Senior midfielder Matteo D’Agostino followed with a goal in the 24th minute. Mercado closed out the first half with another goal from an assist by junior forward Donal Reyes.
Sophomore midfielder/forward Wesley Quill scored 20 minutes into the second half before assisting Mercado with another goal. Sophomore midfielder/forward Olo Sembera scored Mason’s final goal in the 74th minute to seal the game.
Senior goalkeeper Daniel Donovan had five saves to help Mason shut out the Blue Devils.
The Mustangs advanced to the final where they faced Martinsville for the state title. Thirteen minutes into the game, junior forward Elliot Mercado scored Mason’s first and only goal of the first half.
The Mustangs returned for the second half more determined to follow through with its shots. Mercado scored his second goal of the game after eight minutes, and sophomore defender/midfielder Oscar Ferrara followed with Mason’s third goal seven minutes later.
Though the next 17 minutes remained scoreless, Mason continued to dominate the game. The final goal by Mercado with six minutes left in the game ensured a Mason victory.
The shutout marks Donovan’s 23rd this season – a new state record.
“We did not want to do anything different than we have all year,” said head coach Frank Spinello. “We just wanted to play Mason Soccer – control the midfield, play stingy defense, possess the ball and create chances. We wanted to play at a quick pace so that our depth would play a role.”
Three of Mason’s four goals were scored off crosses, which Mercado said playing wide was significant in their win over Martinsville. “Our outside kids were a huge help in setting up the goals,” he said. “It kept the game spread and made Martinsville spread all over the field to defend us.”
Mason closes out its season with an impressive 160-3 goal differential over its opponents and an overall undefeated record to 26-0, a VHSL all-time record.
Quill earned All-District and All-Region Player of the Year, in addition to being named All-State first team with Donovan, Reyes, Mercado, senior defender Patrick Pereddo, junior midfielder Grant Goodwin and senior midfielder Thomas Rund.
On Monday, VHSL named Mercado the State Player of the Year and Spinello State Coach of the Year.