Nine minutes into Thursday night’s women’s soccer game at George Mason, junior midfielder Sofia Pavon scored the first goal of the game off a hard shot from outside the 18-yard box to give GW a 1–0 lead.
The Colonials – who entered the contest undefeated when scoring at least once – were quick to give up their advantage. Less than 14 minutes into the action, Patriots junior forward Nia Elbeck was dragged down in the box and awarded a penalty kick. Junior forward Emily Littell evened up the scoreboard with a low and hard shot from the penalty spot.
In unusually repetitive fashion, the two teams traded a pair of goals again before the 16 minute mark and a third time before the half.
The scoring slowed down and the only second-half goal came off the foot of George Mason freshman forward Kayla Hamric from about 40 yards out. Her lofted shot went over the head of unsuspecting redshirt senior goalkeeper Miranda Horn with 20 minutes to go in the game.
The Patriots (4-6-0, 1-0-0 A-10) limited the remainder of GW’s chances as the Colonials (5-3-1, 0-1-0 A-10) dropped their first conference game of the season 4–3.
“That was the sloppiest game we have played this season,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “They played harder and they deserved to win the game.”
The loss snapped GW’s five-game win streak that extended back to Sept. 3 at American. The Colonials did not allow more than one goal during that stretch.
Pavon finished with a team high five points on the night with two goals and one assist. She leads the team with five goals on the season. Senior forward Brittany Cooper netted the third and final Colonials goal.
Barnes said that part of the game plan was to run the offense through Pavon and Cooper and let them control the tempo.
“The game opens up a little bit the way they attack and the numbers that they send,” Barnes said. “We talked to them about certain passes that would break lines and get them in good positions like that.”
The six first-half goals were unexpected after a non-conference slate where the two teams combined for an average of 2.71 goals per game.
“Once they scored we just had the mentality that we can come back and we’re better than this,” Cooper said. “We knew we were able to score, it is just a matter of the mentality to score.”
Before Pavon’s first goal, the momentum was largely in George Mason’s favor. The Patriots were able to hold the ball in GW’s half and put pressure on goal. Horn was forced to make a leaping stop on the game’s first shot on goal.
The first four goals all came within seven minutes of play. Pavon broke the 1–1 draw with a header off of a corner from sophomore defender Deena DeSilva. Just over a minute later, George Mason senior midfielder Abby Downey scored her first goal of the year off a deflection.
After the scoring rush, the 11-minute gap before the next goal appeared to be played slower and less aggressive from both sides. Cooper scored her third goal of the year between the goalkeeper’s legs to return the scoring advantage to GW.
Turnovers in the final 15 minutes of the first half kept the play mostly in the middle of the field.
With the final offensive effort before the break, George Mason freshman forward Amanda Nhek evened up the game for the third time after a challenge with a Colonials defender resulted in the ball finding the back of the net.
“There were individual breakdowns, I think that we got stretched and we got pulled apart a little bit on defense,” Barnes said. “We didn’t do the work to get into early spots as the ball moved.”
In the first six minutes of the second frame, freshman midfielder Alexis Williams had two opportunities to regain the GW lead. She found herself wide open in the 18-yard box twice, but neither her hard shot nor her header found their mark.
Cooper also had two good opportunities near the beginning of the second half. She was dribbling by Patriots defenders with ease, but found both of her shots saved by the extended arm of George Mason’s goalkeeper.
The Patriots picked up their play around the 58th minute and helped the momentum for the majority of the remainder of the game.
George Mason’s goal came following multiple close misses, including an acrobatic save by Horn off a shot from Nehk.
With four minutes to go in the match, GW had its last good attempt at the goal during congested action inside the Mason box.
“At the end of the day they have got to be better focused and their preparation has to be better,” Barnes said. “I think we are a good team and we can be competitive in the conference, but any time you come out and play a quality team you can’t afford to be sloppy or you’ll be in trouble.”
The Colonials return to action on the road Sunday when they take on Rhode Island at 1 p.m.