Mustangs boys roll past Rams in rout

By Brad Fauber

STRASBURG — George Mason’s boys soccer team continued to roll through Bull Run District competition on Thursday evening, as even a steady downpour of rain couldn’t cool off the Mustangs against Strasburg.

The Mustangs — last season’s Group A state champion — got hat tricks from sophomore Elliot Mercado and senior Paul Darmstadter and didn’t allow a shot in an 8-0 victory over the Rams that ended in the 62nd minute due to the mercy rule.

“I thought we held them off pretty well for the first 15 minutes or so. We had a couple mistakes which resulted in a couple goals, and then they started playing the cross and heading it in,” Rams coach Joel Ross said. “They’re a fantastic team. I’m not too disappointed. I’m not too surprised.”

George Mason (14-1 overall/Bull Run) opened the scoring 10 minutes into the match, when Darmstadter converted on a 12-yard shot that beat Strasburg keeper Mate Gergely (12 saves).

Mercado followed with his first goal of the night off an assist from Darmstadter in the 17th minute, as he scored on a header from 10 yards out that glanced off a Rams defender to give George Mason a 2-0 lead.

“We actually found spots on the field where we could pass the ball, so we passed the ball around pretty well. We got in a lot of crosses — I think a lot of our goals came off headers and corner kicks, stuff like that,” said Mercado, who has four hat tricks this season. “When we get the ball wide we’re a better team crossing the ball. We played well through the middle today, even with it being slippery and stuff.”

Senior Sinan Kokuuslu scored in the 21st minute for the Mustangs, as a Darmstadter header off a throw-in into the penalty box sailed right to Kokuuslu, who was about 15 yards from the net.

Kokuuslu notched an assist just over three minutes later as he sent a lining cross pass to Mercado, who was positioned right in front of the net and headed it in to give George Mason a 4-0 lead with 15 minutes left in the first half.

“I’ve always been good with my head and I like finding spots,” Mercado said. “As long as people are trying to find me, I’m going to get in the right positions for me to score. It’s all about getting second runs and stuff like that. If I don’t get it the first time, get it the next time.”

George Mason held a 19-0 shot advantage at halftime and a 30-0 advantage in the match.

Strasburg’s (2-9-4) chances — however slim they may have been on Thursday — took a big blow in the 13th minute, as senior Nathan Spencer collided with Kokuuslu as both competed for a 50-50 ball near midfield. Spencer dropped to the ground clutching the back of his head, and he was eventually helped off the pitch and didn’t return to the game.

Ross said after the game that Spencer was going to be tested for a concussion.

“He wasn’t sure if it was a knee or an elbow. He went up for it pretty aggressively and just got hit in the back of the head. Hopefully it’s not a concussion,” Ross said. “… He didn’t go unconscious or anything like that. It’s just with head things you’ve got to sit them out the rest of the game and check them out.”

George Mason continued rolling in the second half, as Darmstadter converted a penalty kick just over four minutes in, and Mercado completed his hat trick just 40 seconds later off an assist by Grant Goodwin to give the Mustangs a 6-0 lead.

Sophomore Raheem Lawal added a goal with 25 minutes to play on an assist by Matteo D’Agostino, and Darmstadter ended the match with a header right in front of the net off a corner kick from Kavon Nowroozi with 18:33 left on the game clock.

“I thought we pressured real well in the midfield,” Mustangs coach Frank Spinello said. “I thought Grant Goodwin and Kavon Nowroozi both pressured the ball well, which kept Strasburg from getting any good momentum going. Then Paul Darmstadter and Elliot were just finishing clinically. That’s always nice to have on the other end.”

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD