Alison Penland and the George Mason girls' soccer team couldn't help but get more competitive with Clarke County as the season went along.
That's what happens when two teams play each other five times.
However, the senior midfielder was determined to see that her Mustangs not only caught up to the Eagles, but were in position to leapfrog them and claim the school's second state title in three seasons.
Penland, who will play at Tampa in the fall, succeeded by scoring the tying goal in the 44th minute and what proved to be the game-winner in the 65th of George Mason's 3-1 victory in the Virginia A championship game.
"It's never the same old thing because you're playing for the state championship," said Penland, whose team has participated in every state final in the three-year history of the A tournament. "If anything, Clarke County didn't know what they were in for because they'd never been there before."
Clarke County won the first three meetings between the schools during the season, but as the stakes became higher, Penland began to see a more confident George Mason team immerge.
"It's something I knew we could do," Penland said. "We kept getting closer score-wise, and the more we played them, the more we figured out their strengths and weaknesses."
George Mason had no choice but to try and expose those weaknesses in the second half of the state final as it trailed 1-0 at the half. However, 18 shots and three goals later, Penland and the Mustangs ended up right where they thought they could.
"The games we played in the regular season only meant something to our record," Penland said. "It all builds towards the state championship and it's a good feeling to leave high school on top."