by Matt Delaney
Amidst a season of tense moments and even a little doubt, George Mason’s varsity girls soccer team was able to shoulder the weight of expectation and deliver by winning their ninth consecutive Virginia High School League state title down at the Spring Jubilee state soccer tournament in Radford.
Mason tore through the state tournament, besting semifinal opponent Richlands High School 8-0 and finals opponent Radford High School 6-1. Decisive victories were due to the Mustangs’ command of the second half, where they outscored their competitors 10-1 and were able to add at least two goals in the opening ten minutes after halftime in both games.
Junior Rebecca Crouch, the 2A East Player of the Year, led Mason with five goals throughout the tournament. Sophomore midfielder Victoria Rund had four goals, including a hat trick in the final, and senior midfielder Corinne Carson followed behind with two of her own.
Another title is always well-received but the fairytale ending to the season doesn’t tell the whole story. The Mustangs were a team that struggled to synergize at times and quietly questioned their own chances of upholding Mason’s nine-year reign as champions.
“This group of girls went into it knowing they had a target on their back, and it was almost like they were a little bit worried,” head coach Allison Klink said.
“You always have to think that [losing the title] could happen, but instead of doubting, we just took the perspective that we had to earn it.”
The Mustangs earned the Conference 35, 2A East region and state title on their way to a 20-2-1 record. They removed the seasonal skeletons from their closet and reaffirmed to fans and opponents alike their deserved seat atop the throne of 2A girls soccer.
Upholding the winning tradition was something these Mustangs grew up with, as seniors from this year’s team were once eager eighth-graders tagging along on the trip to states just to witness the greatness of Mason soccer. Five years later, they’re the veterans. “Our relationships together really make the team whole and our effort put in every game makes this team what we are,” Rund said.
Learning to cherish the gravitas of such a successful program is special enough, but for Klink even more so since it’s her first as head coach after she replaced long time Mason soccer coach Jennifer Parsons this year.
“The pressure, I think, surprised me the most. It’s a different type of pressure being the head coach,” Klink said.
“But I expected that these girls would come out here wanting to win and defend their state championship, so I was happy with how the season went.”