Mustangs claim third straight title
GEORGE MASON 4, MARTINSVILLE 0
George Mason senior Ned Quill could not describe his feelings. After the Mustangs earned a4-0victory over Martinsville in the Virginia 2A boys’ soccer final Saturday at Radford, the All-Met center back said his reaction to a third consecutive state title was “too much for words.”
Even by the lofty standards of a soccer team that has now won eight Commonwealth crowns, this year was special. George Mason finished a perfect 26-0, outscoring opponents, 160-3. The goal differential of 157 breaks the state record of 138 the Mustangs set last season. With 12 state titles, only Blacksburg has more than the George Mason.
His team’s accomplishments were too new to fully appreciate, but Quill knew how he would celebrate. The team made a pit stop at a fast-food joint when he was reached by phone. Quill was mulling a milkshake.
“They can order anything they want,” Coach Frank Spinello said.
Spinello, the 2015 All-Met Coach of the Year, joined the Mustangs as an assistant in 2000 and took over as head coach in 2011. He said he first had an inkling this group would be exemplary when the seniors were in eighth grade.
Because the Mustangs are within the 2A classification, they can put middle-schoolers on junior varsity. Quill’s poise was obvious from the start. He would become the first sophomore captain in school history, locking down the back line en route to back-to-back-to-back titles and a 69-5-1 record in the past three years.
The defender said more than anything, the demands of Spinello’s practices fueled George Mason.
“Starting sophomore year, every practice just got more and more intense,” Quill said. “At least for me, the practices were more intense than the games were.”
Before Saturday’s final, Quill found junior forward Elliot Mercado on the pitch. The teammates maintained the same agreement all season. Quill would handle the possession if Mercado would carry the scoring.
Against Martinsville (14-6-1), Mercado (41 goals) netted his fourth hat trick and his fifth game with at least three goals. Sophomore Nico Ferrara accounted for the other Mustangs goal.