Mus­tangs claim third straight ti­tle

GE­ORGE MA­SON 4, MARTINSVILLE 0

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY GABE HIATT gabe.hiatt@wash­post.com

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.

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