Mustangs make it eight in row
GEORGE MASON 3, MAGGIE WALKER 1
Ava Roth and her George Mason teammates tried to play it cool during halftime of Saturday’s Virginia 2A girls’ soccer state final. But deep down, their nerves were churning in an unfamiliar, unsettling way.
For the first time in nearly two seasons, the Mustangs, winners of seven straight state championships, were trailing after 40 minutes of play, down one goal to Maggie Walker.
“They came out really aggressive, and it being the state championship, I think a lot of us were nervous because we weren’t used to the pressure of being down like that,” said Roth, a senior forward. “But I think once we all shared the fact that none of us were alone in being nervous, we were able pull together and play our game.”
Behind a formation switch that ramped up their offense and the maturity of 14 players boasting championship experience, the Mustangs rallied in the second half for a 3-1 victory at Radford. The outcome marked George Mason’s eighth straight title and 10th overall, both state records, none perhaps as closely contested as Saturday’s final.
Rebecca Crouch helped ease the tension in the 55th minute. After fielding a pass from Izzy Armstrong, the sophomore blasted a 25-yard shot into the upper corner of the net to knot the score.
About nine minutes later, Roth pushed the Mustangs ahead for good by knocking in a cross from Jackie Baarts, running her season total to 52 goals.
Still up 2-1 during stoppage time, Crouch again found space in the open field. Determined to make this victory, despite its initial struggle, just as dominant as the others during George Mason’s 26-0 campaign, Crouch surged forward before netting the final score.
The goal and victory also helped provide a proper sendoff for Mustangs Coach Jennifer Parsons, who is stepping down after nine seasons to pursue other opportunities.
“It definitely made for a different kind of weekend, knowing this would be my last time through,” said Parsons, who is getting married this fall. “It’s been an incredible ride, and every year has brought something special to cherish with these groups of girls, so I’ll definitely miss it.”