Williamsburg, Va. – Timi Mulgrew and Wes Sever each scored in regulation and freshman Steffen Kraus once again came up with huge saves down the stretch as the George Mason men’s soccer team (12-2-6) used a 4-2 advantage on penalty kicks to defeat the College of William & Mary in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in front of a crowd of 1,109 on Thursday evening.
Four Patriots scored in the shootout to win the best-of-five contest 4-2. Senior Julio Arjona was first to convert for Mason, sending his kick to the right of the net for the 1-0 lead. Kraus was able to stop William & Mary’s first attempt, diving to his right to for the save. Zach Herstek slipped one past a diving Bennett Jones for the 2-1 pk advantage following Kraus’ save.
After a goal from the Tribe, Sever scored on a liner to the center of the net that again went off the fingers of Jones. After another diving save by Kraus, senior Chase Miller buried the game winner to the right of the net, advancing the Patriots to the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. Mason's win extends their unbeaten streak to 13 consecutive matches.
Play between the two sides was competitive for the entire match and each goal scored by Mason was quickly answered by William & Mary. Despite being outshot by the Tribe 24-9 the Patriots were more efficient, putting two of their four shots on goal in the net. William & Mary totaled 10 shots on goal, resulting in eight big saves by Kraus.
The Tribe put on early pressure in the match with two chances from the leg of Chris Perez. Less than three minutes into the match Perez would make a cross to Chris Albiston near the left of the goal that was kicked into the side of the net. Perez had his own chance in the 8th minute with a strike that would trail wide left. Hugh Roberts used his head for couple of early chances for Mason with the first attempt blocked and the second saved by Mac Phillips, who played all 110 minutes of action for the Tribe in game action.
Physical play would continue and would help the Patriots score the first goal of the match in the 34th minute. Mulgrew used fancy footwork to get a shot off from just inside the top of the box that was blocked but was able to battle for the ball and convert a second chance from the same spot, sending the ball to the right side of the net for his fourth goal of the season and the 1-0 lead.
It didn’t take long for William & Mary to answer, responding in less than two minutes of play. After a corner attempt from Perez, the ball made its way outside of the box where Roshan Patel placed a beautiful ball in the top left corner of the net for the tie in the 36th minute.
Kraus would make two of his eight saves in the 44th minute on back-to-back chances from the Tribe’s Ben Coffey. His first attempt near the left side of the net was shot hard and bounced off Kraus back into play, where Coffey had his second chance in point-blank range saved by Kraus to keep the score tied at the half.
Clean play from both teams began the second half and would remain so until Sever scored Mason’s second goal of the match in the 72nd minute. As Sever ran into the box with the ball, Phillip’s made his way out of the net which allowed the senior to get the ball past him and into the right side from 15-yards out for the 2-1 lead.
William & Mary again did not wait long to respond, answering within seven minutes to tie the game at two. Jackson Eskay blasted a shot into the top left corner from 22-yards out for his eighth of the season which continued the game into two overtime periods. Chances were there for both teams in the extra periods however resuled in a draw and Mason’s second shootout victory of the season.
The Patriots return to Fairfax for one day of preparation before flying to Albuquerque, New Mexico to play the Lobos in the second round of the NCAA Championships. New Mexico was awarded a first round bye after earning the seven-seed in the tournament. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time, 7 p.m. EST at the UNM Soccer Complex.
On top of Mason's success on the pitch, the men's soccer team was also recognized by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America on Thursday, earning the NSCAA Team-Academic Award for the 2012-2013 school year. The award is given to teams that post a team grade point average of 3.0 or above for the academic year.