By Brad Fauber - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Visiting George Mason proved to be too much for Strasburg on Tuesday, beating the Rams 6-0 in Bull Run District boys soccer action.
The 2011 Group A runner-up Mustangs benefited from a solid team effort as five different George Mason players scored goals in the victory.
"We were just trying to really spread the ball around -- keep the ball moving and hopefully [Strasburg's] defense would have to open up and produce some gaps for us," said Mustangs coach Frank Spinello. "I thought everybody contributed."
Strasburg (1-7, 0-6 Bull Run) appeared determined at the beginning of the match to keep up its defensive pressure and not be intimidated by the much stronger George Mason squad.
The Rams survived some early attacks by the Mustangs (5-3, 5-1) while managing to put some pressure on the George Mason defense as Strasburg tallied a couple of breakaway opportunities in the first 13 minutes.
The Mustangs finally broke the scoreless tie in the 19th minute when Stephan Cotner raced by a Rams defender in the penalty area before connecting from 10 yards out to give George Mason a 1-0 lead.
"[Strasburg] came out and pressured the ball really well, especially in the first half," Spinello said. "They pressured the ball and created a lot of turnovers. So we just tried to adjust and tried to be a little more patient instead of forcing things."
That patience paid off for the Mustangs as they connected for a pair of quick goals in the 25th minute to extend the lead to 3-0, dealing a big blow to Strasburg's morale.
Henry Darmstadter notched the first of the two goals when he banked an 18-yard shot off the goal post and into the back of the net, and Adam Witzel followed with his first goal of the evening less than a minute later.
"After the second and third goals, we kind of came down a bit," said Rams coach Joel Ross. "It's disappointing to see them come down, but it is hard to play through that. That was the low point in the game."
Witzel added his second goal of the game during the 31st minute when he headed in a cross from teammate Eion Oosterbaan, giving the Mustangs a commanding 4-0 lead heading into halftime.
George Mason outshot the Rams 14-4 in shots on goal in the first half, and finished with a 26-8 advantage in the category. Strasburg keeper Tyler Henry finished with 11 saves, seven of which came in the first half.
"We've been working really hard at just not allowing shots, because we know that we're playing against teams that can finish very well," Ross said. "Darren [Price], our sweeper in the back, ran down a lot of things and prevented a lot more goals that could have happened."
Despite the lopsided scoreboard, the Rams achieved a moral victory with improved defensive play in the second half, allowing just two goals over the final 40 minutes.
Oosterbaan, who was all over the field and had a direct impact on many of the Mustangs' scoring opportunities, knocked home his first goal of the night in the 50th minute to push the lead to 5-0.
Kurt Ellis tallied the final goal of the match in the 62nd minute when he dribbled by several Rams defenders before sending the ball through the goal from 15 yards away.
"The second half was better, they only scored two in the second half," Ross said. "Compared to last year -- last year it wasn't just that they slaughtered us, we didn't really look at the goal playing against them last year. Tonight [we had some opportunities]."