By Jeffrey Wojtala
The George Mason High School girls varsity lacrosse team won in an ugly battle of fortitude against local foe Bishop O’Connell High School, 12-11, last Friday evening. Both varsity and JV teams traveled across I-66 to face the Knights on their home field for an afternoon of games that were bleak, chilling affairs with light rain spattering the field early. As the Mason junior varsity was dropping their contest to the Knights’ JV squad, the varsity team was trying to stay warm until their match.
The varsity contest began with a determined Knights team physically pressing Mason with every possession of the ball. Sloppy was the adjective to describe the catching and passing by both teams, leading to the Knights first goal 54 seconds into play. But Mason’s Meredith Johnson, assisted by Selwyn Heminway at 20:39 of the first half, tied the score. Sarah Lubnow followed less than a minute later with help from Claire Hiscott to briefly put Mason ahead, but the Knights scored at 15:25 to knot the game again.
After the Knights’ goal, Mason went scored five straight, with tallies from Lubnow (assisted by Claire Hiscott again), Alex Biggs (2), Lizzie Dodge and Hiscott. After the Knights scored to bring it to 7-3, Mason coach Gibbons called a timeout to settle her squad before time expired in the half. Throughout the half Mason goalkeeper Annette Schlitt showed why she is the anchor to the team’s defense by turning aside, blocking and pushing aside the multiple Knights shots directed at the goal. Both goaltenders certainly owed a great deal of thanks to their goalposts, as numerous shots found the metal instead of the back of the respected nets.
Despite Mason starting the second half strong by winning the draw, the Knights scored first 1:20 into the half. Meredith Johnson, helped by Amy Roche, began the Mason scoring for the half, but then the Knights went on a three-goal scoring streak to close the score to 8-7. Notable during the Knights scoring spree was Mason’s Lydia Grund. She saved a goal when Schlitt found herself out of the crease and the Knights with possession of the ball. A shot driven toward the center of the net was seized midair by Lydia’s outstretched cross and carried harmlessly away from the unattended Mason net.
So began a see-saw battle that Mason fans were acquainted with but did not enjoy. Lubnow scored at the 15:14 mark with an assist by Roche to make it a two-goal game but soon after, Roche would need to retire from the game because of injury. The Knights scored two quickly to tie the game at 9, but Hiscott, with help from Dodge, scored at the 9:30 mark to regain Mason’s lead. Bishop O’Connell scored 30 seconds later to tie up the score and the Knights fans let their voices be heard. Hard fought battles were being waged within the 12-meter arc for both teams with the lacrosse ball scattering about the field due to slashes, whacks, dropped balls and missed catches. The Mason players were visibly fatigued with the quick play and transitions.
Hard work inside the 12-meter led to a Hiscott free penalty possession with 5:55 left in the game, which she sequentially buried the ball behind the Knights goalie for an 11-10 Mason lead.
The Knights were not going to roll over easily and pushed the play deep into the Mason end once again, leading to a Knights’ goal at the 4:42 mark to tie the score once again. Lubnow won the ensuing draw and Mason began to slow the tempo of the game, making deliberate passes on the perimeter of the arc looking for the opportunity for the go-ahead goal.
The Mustangs’ deliberate play was awarded when Hiscott scored her third goal in a row, and fourth of the game, to put Mason ahead with two and half minutes to play. The Knights kept pressing, and after a strong check against Mason, the O’Connell had control of the ball at midfield with 40 seconds left in the game. This time it was Mason’s Bridgett Rorrer who was a game-saver when she immediately intercepted a forward pass to preserve the Mason win, 12-11. The Mustangs did manage to redeem their draw win differential by winning seven more than the visitors in the second half, finishing with a 13-9 advantage.
Both teams are now on spring break until April 21, when the varsity team travels to Loudoun County High School. The JV team returns April 25 when both squads travel to Rock Ridge High School.