Men’s Soccer Wins 2013 A-10 Championship
Posted: November 17, 2013 at 6:09 pm, Last Updated: November 20, 2013 at 1:41 pm
By Mason Athletics
After overcoming weather conditions and a last-minute field change, the George Mason men’s soccer team defeated No. 1 Saint Louis, 1-0, to win the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship on Sunday.
“We are all tremendously proud of the team’s effort over this weekend,” commented head coach Greg Andrulis. “We played some terrific soccer and had to play at our best to defeat a very well prepared and coached team in St. Louis.
“John O’Hara and Trevor Singer deserve credit for all that they do day in and day out for this team. Our seniors have been the guiding force all season and now we are all excited to return to the NCAA Tournament.”
The conference championship is Mason’s first since 2008 when they were crowned CAA champions, and its inaugural Atlantic 10 team championship, the school’s first since joining the conference in 2013. The victory also allows the Patriots to receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I men’s soccer championship.
Sunday’s match was decided just inside the 82nd minute of play, when senior Alex Herrera converted on his penalty kick attempt to put to Mason up 1-0 with less than nine minutes to play. The Patriots would hold off a late header in the final minute by Saint Louis to win the match and the conference championship.
Herrera was named the Atlantic 10 Tournament Most Outstanding Player after his efforts in Sunday’s match against Saint Louis and for assisting on the game-winning goal in Friday’s semifinal against VCU. The senior was also named to the all-tournament team, joined by fellow Patriots Steffen Kraus, Timi Mulgrew and Hugh Roberts.
Mason began the match with several early scoring chances by senior Julio Arjona. His shot in the third minute of play was sent high over the crossbar and another chance in the 11th minute was saved by St. Louis keeper Nick Shackelford.
The Billikens’ Alex Sweetin would return with several chances of his own later in the first half but was unable to land any on goal. A shot by Sweetin in the 24th minute sailed wide left and another in the 33rd minute went wide right. A late header by Mason’s Roberts sailed high in the 36th minute of play, resulting in a scoreless halftime score in which Saint Louis held the shots advantage 4-3.
More pressure from Mason came in the early stages of the second half, when an early shot from senior Chase Miller went wide and another shot from Arjona, who led Mason with four in the match, was saved. Kraus saw his first test come in the 52nd minute when he needed to make his only save of the match after a shot by Robert Kristo from 20 yards out.
Chances would continue for Mason in the later stages with shots from Wes Sever and back-to-back chances from Mulgrew in the 80th minute before Herrera stepped up and sank the game winning penalty kick. The Patriots out-shot Saint Louis 12-10 in the match at Alter High School in Dayton, Ohio.
After winning the A-10 Conference Tournament on Sunday, the George Mason men’s soccer team will head to Williamsburg, Va., to play the College of William & Mary on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at Martin Family Stadium at Albert-Daly Field in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
Thursday will mark the first NCAA appearance for Mason men’s soccer since 2008, when they advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, falling against #2 ranked and eventual champion Maryland 2-0. The Patriots are 5-10 in 10 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Mason enters the tournament with a 12-2-5 record after its three-game stretch through the Atlantic 10 Tournament, defeating the likes of St. Joseph’s, VCU and top-seeded Saint Louis to capture the title.
Mason is 17-24-4 against the former conference opponent, last playing each other in 2012 where the Patriots won 2-0. The Tribe fell in the CAA conference finals on Saturday, receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 11-5-2 overall record.
The winner of Thursday’s contest will face the No. 7-seed New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 9 p.m.
Follow all the action at GoMason.com.
John McCarthy, La Salle
Dennis Catillo, VCU
Nate Shiffman, VCU
Anthony Manning, SLU
David Graydon, SLU
Hugh Roberts, Mason
Steffen Kraus, Mason
Alex Sweetin, SLU
Kingsley Bryce, SLU
Timi Mulgrew, Mason
Alex Herrera, Mason (Most Outstanding Player)
Write to Robin Herron at email@example.com