After watching George Mason’s boys’ and girls’ tennis teamsand the boys’ soccer squad clinch Virginia A state titles this weekend, the Mustangs faithful shifted its attention to Sunday’s girls’ soccer final featuring its five-time defending state champion.

But as shot after shot soared wide, bounced off the crossbar or was knocked away in the first half, it appeared the Mustangs’ sixth straight title-game appearance could be one of their toughest challenges yet.

Then, just seconds before halftime, Camille Rice kicked the ball high into the goal, triggering a second-half flurry that lifted the Mustangs to a 4-0 victory against Stuarts Draft at Radford University.

George Mason is the first soccer team of either gender to win six consecutive Virginia state championships.

“Before the first goal, we had so many shots and were just waiting to capitalize on one,” senior Hailey Thomas said. “The first goal is always the hardest to get, so once we got it, it really shifted the momentum.”

Seven minutes into the second half, Ava Roth sent a cross to Claire Trevisan, who knocked in her 29th goal of the season. Less than two minutes later, Roth continued her big day by taking a through ball from Trevisan and blasting a shot into the top corner of the net to put the Mustangs up 3-0.

George Mason’s defense kept the Cougar attack in check, swarming the opponent to win 50-50 balls in the backfield before they could result into scoring opportunities.

“After we got that huge goal before halftime, we did a really good job of stepping things up defensively and using what we learned about them in the [Region B] tournament,” George Mason Coach Jennifer Parsons said.

The Mustangs’ final goal came in the 76th minute, when freshman Ella Howard volleyed a cross from senior Maggie Mascarenhas into the net. In some ways, the play held symbolic value, with Mascarenhas, a four-year varsity player passing the torch to one of nine freshmen who will be charged with keeping the championship flame burning.

“As seniors, we didn’t want to be the group that broke the streak, so we tried to step up as a leader for the nine freshmen on our team,” Mascarenhas said. “Now that we did it again, it’s hard to believe that my high school career is done, but I’m sure there will be more championships to come.”