Victory was in hand for George Mason High School’s girls soccer team until it wasn’t, with two late goals giving way to a 2-2 tie against crosstown rival Falls Church High School last Thursday.
Mason (2-1-1) did everything right for the first 50 or so minutes of the game. The midfield of seniors Maddie Lacroix and Maura Mann were able to guide possessions from the defensive third of the field to the offensive third. The defense was shooing away scoring attempts and gave junior goalkeeper Josie Shaw clear sight lines when Falls Church did line up for shots. The formula worked its way to a 2-0 lead, but some attrition on the back line exposed the Mustangs to the lead-trimming and then tying score, with the Jaguars’ final tally coming in the closing seconds of regulation.
“The last goal was definitely because we had two of our starting defenders sitting on the bench for the goals – only one for the first one, but both were out due to injury for the second one,” Mason head coach Leah Partridge said. “When you’re playing a freshman at center back, that goes into the miscommunication piece in the that last goal.”
It appeared that Mason would make a clean getaway early on. Their first goal found the netting in the game’s opening minutes and had Falls Church playing a bit desperately for the remainder of the first half. The Mustangs responded well to the desperation by defusing the Jaguars over-eager attempts at goal that followed.
Partridge’s decision to move junior forward Emma Rollins to right midfielder in the second half paid off. Rollins strafed left-to-right and launched a shot from about 20 yards out that glided just over the Falls Church goalkeeper’s head, pinged off the right post and in with 36 minutes left to play.
The Jaguars’ intensity cooled afterward and worked their way into a more controlled groove. Seven minutes after attaining a 2-0 lead, a Falls Church free kick from the left wing played out similarly to Rollins’ goal as it floated out of Shaw’s reach to put the home team back into it. The 70th minute saw another Jaguar free kick enter into Mason’s penalty box and find a Falls Church player’s head, but the attempt went wide left. The shot, however, foreshadowed the game’s eventual conclusion.
A corner kick from the left side of the field careened into the box and found a favorable appendage that knocked the ball in for the tying score. The brief overtime period – two, five-minute frames – couldn’t produce a winner. Attrition allowed the game to end in a draw, but fatigue from a difficult stretch to start the season also played a factor in the Mustangs not being able to get over the hump.
“We’re playing the bigger and harder schools right now,” Partridge added. “It’s a great opportunity for our players to go against girls who are going to challenge us the way we’ll find later in the postseason.”
Mason spends this week on the road with games against Loudoun County High School tomorrow night, Central High School on Friday and Strasburg High School next Tuesday.