Men’s soccer crushed George Mason in a 3–0 victory Saturday to close out its regular season and enter the Atlantic 10 Championship as the fifth seed in an eight-team bracket.
The Colonials (8-8-2) clinched a playoff berth with the win over the Patriots (2-11-2), building a substantial lead with unstoppable attacks in the box before establishing an impenetrable defensive wall that kept George Mason scoreless. The must-win game secured a playoff berth for the Colonials, who entered the game in seventh place in the conference and would have been eliminated from postseason play with a draw or loss.
GW opened the game with high tempo and aggressive play through the first 25 minutes. Senior attacker Roee Tenne fed the ball to senior midfielder Elias Norris who ran down the left and rocketed a shot into right corner of the net for his seventh goal for the season, putting GW on the board 1–0.
A lengthy back-and-forth battle ensued between the teams as the Patriots defense locked down with increased pressure, leading to seven fouls against GW throughout the game. But the Colonials wall proved stronger – GW senior goalkeeper Justin Grady blocked all of George Mason’s five attempts.
Both nets remained untouched during the last 20 minutes of the first half of the match, but the Patriots offense started to build momentum as halftime approached. Freshman attacker Zach Golden entered the match and helped generate momentum for his team as they transitioned into a 4-3-3 formation.
The score remained at 1–0 at the end of the first half with 12 total fouls between the two teams.
In the second half, GW maintained possession for the majority of the 45 minutes and capitalized with a pair of goals during the first 10 minutes. In the first minute of the half, senior attacker Tom Cooklin launched a corner kick following an offside penalty and junior defense Lucas Matuswezki headed in the goal.
GW intensity continued entering the 51st minute when Cooklin fired a cross to senior attacker Oscar Haynes Brown who rifled it off the left post and rebounded back to the George Mason goalkeeper.
The Patriots pushed upfield before a steal by Cooklin sabotaged their push toward the GW goal. Cooklin shoveled the ball to Haynes Brown who entered a long run and drilled the ball straight into the back of the net for the Colonials’ third score of the evening.
Haynes Brown is now fifth on GW’s all-time points list, passing 2009 men’s soccer alumnus Andy Stadler with the 84th goal of his career.
George Mason had four opportunities to score, the first of which came in the 60th minute when junior forward Ishmail Kamara missed wide. Nineteen minutes later, senior forward Kent Harrison ran down the box and kicked the ball toward top corner of the goal, but Grady caught it with both hands.
A minute later, George Mason graduate student forward Noah Raphael fired a shot from out left that went long. The Patriots had one final chance to score in the 88th minute when freshman defender Eric Allen ran down the zone and shot out left, but Grady made a diving save.
The Colonials fell back on defense for the rest of the game, tightening their coverage of the zone. George Mason failed to break through the GW wall, with Grady recording four saves on the day.
The Colonials are set to take on Loyola Chicago Saturday where they hope to survive the first round of the A-10 Championship. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.