Falls Church, VA (June 18, 2021) - The George Mason Mustangs came into this game unbeaten. After a draw in their first match, they had run off a string of eleven victories including the first two rounds of the region playoffs. In those two games combined, they scored ten goals and gave up none.

While those statistics looked formidable, the Independence Tigers were holders of a more modest record of 6-3-3. They had, however, not lost in their last six games including two shutouts of their own in regional play. 

What seemed like a big difference might have been a bit misleading given the fact that the two teams had exactly zero common opponents. The Tigers had also earned a modicum of confidence since they had played a primarily Level 4 schedule against bigger schools.

Please click here to see the photo gallery by Chas Sumser Photography.

The first half of the game was evenly played. Both defenses held and the match was primarily contested between the top of the penalty areas. Independence was able to get off a good shot from the left wing and a couple long shots from the thirty-five, but did not really threaten.

Mason had more opportunities with several corner kicks and throw-ins lofted into the center. It helped that they had the tallest player on the field, Tai Ballah, as a target. When he jumped he was a foot above everyone else. But those chances were not finished and the scuffling Tiger defense was able to clear them with no harm done. As the half ended, the score was still knotted at 0-0.

The balance of play shifted early in the second half with the Mustangs starting to tilt the field toward the Independence goal. The Independence defense was scrambling still, but they managed to hold on until the 58th minute. A flurry of shots, blocks and rebounds brought the ball on to the capable right foot of Matthew Hellert who slotted it home for a 1-0 lead.

Independence immediately pressed forward with intensity. But they were going against a defense and keeper that had given up just three goals all season, and the Tigers would not be rewarded with a payoff. Their best chance cleared the Mason back line, but the defenders recovered quickly and forced a hurried shot that was off the mark.

In the 72nd minute, Will Atkeson sealed the victory with a punishing shot that beat Tiger keeper Haris Panjshiri to his left. Independence closes out an admirable season with its first class of seniors. And Mason remains unbeaten and heads to the state tournament.

Final Score: George Mason 2 - Independence 0

Powered by SmugMug Owner Log In