Fresh off Spring Break, George Mason High School’s varsity soccer team struggled to scrape off its rust as a 0-0 draw with William Monroe High School Tuesday left the team empty-handed.
The Mustangs (5-1-1) played similarly to their female counterparts but were denied the same satisfying result. Mason fired out of the gates, but that momentum fizzled and faded after the initial surge. Throughout the second half and overtime, the Mustangs drummed up enough intensity to keep the game competitive, yet couldn’t seal the win outright by finding the back of the net.
“We attacked in a defensive shape and need to realize that we are not going to score like that in big games,” Mustang head coach Frank Spinello said.
The opening minutes of the game went Mason’s way. Scoring chances were plentiful as the Mustangs repeatedly jabbed William Monroe with aggressive shots on goal. Mason was even pressuring the Dragons’ defense on throw-ins as senior defender Nico Ferrara’s long tosses kept William Monroe’s back line honest. William Monroe eventually stemmed the tide and put Mason on the defensive with a burst of their own. Senior goalkeeper Walker Hegadorn’s three lunging saves and a well-timed tip silenced the Dragons’ advances and kept the scoreboard blank. Toward the end of the first half William Monroe almost broke the draw, but senior defender and co-captain Wesley Quill cleared the ball off the goal line before the tally could be counted.
By the start of the second half and through two five-minute overtime periods the Mustangs were reinvigorated, though they came up short offensively. Ferrara, Quill and sophomore defender Miles Lankford bullied William Monroe out of any viable offensive looks for the final 50 minutes of competition. That effort opened the door for Mason’s offense to add an exclamation point to the game with a clinching goal, but it never materialized.
Freshman midfielder Cole Hellert nearly ended the game with rebounded shot at the end of regulation and junior forward Haeju Jong was on the cusp of a breakaway multiple times. Still, the decisive goal eluded the Mustangs. Hegadorn finished the game with seven saves as well as recorded his fourth shutout of the season. The other three came against Rappahannock County High School, Madison County High School and Strasburg High School, respectively. Junior midfielder Carlos Mercado led the team with three shots on goal to go with a strong second half working as a defensive midfielder. Mercado was also by far and away the most spirited aggressor for the Mustangs on the offensive side of the ball.
“We need to start imposing our will and become dangerous offensively again in order to keep the crown this year,” Spinello added.
After extensive travel before and after Spring Break, Mason stays within city limts for the upcoming week, squaring off against Clarke County High School this Friday before hosting Warren County High School next Tuesday, Apr. 25.