FAIRFAX, Va. - Taylor Morgan's seventh goal of the season carried the George Mason men's soccer team to a 1-0 victory over league rival No. 11 Old Dominion Saturday night at George Mason Stadium. Morgan's 64th minute goal was enough to hand the Monarchs their first loss of the season as the Patriots dominated possession in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both teams. With the win, Mason improves to 4-2-2 overall and 1-0-0 in CAA action, while ODU drops to 4-1, 0-1.
Mason and ODU played to a 0-0 draw at halftime with the Patriots controlling most of the possession and pressuring the Monarch offense, limiting the visiting foe to just four shots and one on goal in the period. Meanwhile, the Patriots came out strong, attacking the Monarch back line and immediately creating scoring chances.
Verneri Valimaa forced Monarch goalkeeper Victor Francoz into his first save of the night just three minutes into action after drilling an attempt just in front of the goal. Three minutes later Wesley Sever blasted an attempt from the near side as Francoz made a diving stop at the corner to preserve the 0-0 tie.
The Patriots saw another opportunistic chance at the 25 minute mark when Valimaa passed the ball off to Leo Stolz who carried it down the near side. Stolz setup a perfect cross to the middle of the box aiming for Morgan, but Francoz was there to intercept the play. Stolz created another chance in the 22nd minute on a blast from 18 yards out to the left corner that hit the post and sailed to the left.
Old Dominion's first shot occurred in the 29th minute off the foot of Yannick Smith. The junior's attempt from five yards out sailed high above the crossbar as the Monarchs' best scoring effort took place a minute and a half later when Mason goalkeeper Sean Cote picked up his lone save of the period. Cote stopped a Tim Hopkinson shot to the left as Tommy Webb sent a shot high on the rebound.
Mason came out in the second half focused, putting four shots on goal in the first seven minutes. The Patriots got the breakthrough 10 minutes later after being awarded a penalty kick for an Old Dominion foul inside the box. Morgan took the PK for the Patriots as Francoz made a diving save to his right, but Morgan collected the rebound and netted the goal past the keeper into the left corner for the 1-0 lead.
ODU picked up its pace and controlled possession the final 20 minutes of the contest, but failed to find the back of the net as Mason's back line protected the lead. In the 71st minute, Cote picked up his second and final save of the evening on a Chris Harmon shot to the left corner. The Patriots blocked out a pair of ODU scoring threats late in the contest to seal the victory.
Mason outshot ODU in the contest, 14-12, including a 9-2 shots on goal advantage. Valimaa led the Patriots with four shots, putting three on goal. Cote picked up his second win of the season making two stops against the Monarchs. Francoz, who ranks second in the league in save percentage, made eight stops on the night.
Old Dominion is ranked 11th in the latest Soccer America poll and boasts a No. 15 ranking in the latest NSCAA poll.
The Patriots hit the road for its next conference matchup, traveling to face VCU on Saturday, October 1. Match time is slated for 7 p.m.