The Mount Vernon boys soccer team rode the motto "new year, new look, new attitude" to a 6-0 start. Then, somewhere along the way, the team’s continuity hit a snag.
The Majors went winless for three weeks, recording ties against Stuart and Washington-Lee and losing to Yorktown and McLean.
"We came out here one day before one of our games and had a talk on the field," Mount Vernon head coach Robert Garza said. "Somehow we just got everything out where some players admitted they weren’t having fun anymore. Somehow we dug back down deep inside to find where that fun level was. We changed the practices up a little bit, gave guys a couple days off to let them heal. Somehow it changed. They found that fun inside their heart and wanted to play soccer."
The Majors’ re-discovered passion carried into their National District tournament opener, where second-seeded Mount Vernon defeated No. 7 Wakefield 4-0 on May 17 at MVHS. The victory was the Majors’ fourth in a row, guaranteed the team a berth in the regional tournament and marked the first time the program won a district tournament game since 2005.
After the game, Mount Vernon first-team all-district selections Francisco Rodriguez and Dannish Decardi-Nelson spoke of the excitement they felt prior to the contest. Rodriguez came through with a pair of goals and Decardi-Nelson put the finishing touches on the win with the team’s fourth goal in the 72nd minute.
David Heller, also a first-team selection for Mount Vernon, scored a goal late in the first half to give the Majors a 2-0 lead. Heller said having players of all ages contribute has been key to the team’s success.
"There’s always been my core class of seniors," he said. "And [now] we have a core class of sophomores, freshmen and juniors. So now it’s everybody, not just our class."
Freshman goalkeeper Lucas Belanger received first-team all-district honors. Freshman Simon Kargbo was a second-team selection.
Nery Cruz Lainer (junior), Amardo Oakley (sophomore), Demara Dacosta (sophomore) and Brian Castellon (sophomore) were honorable mention.
Garza was named Coach of the Year.
"It’s a big honor," he said. "It makes me feel good."