WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-Over the weekend, the George Mason men’s and women’s soccer teams opened conference play on a strong note.

On a dreary Friday night, the weather held long enough for the Patriot women (at that time, 3-3-3, 0-0-1) to take Old Dominion (at that time, 3-4-2, 0-0-1) down a peg with a 4-4 tie.

The Monarchs dominated in the first half with possession, but could not get on a scoring run until late in the first half. Senior midfielder Alyssa Anderson cleaned up a shot from junior forward Tiana Kallenberger to even the match at 1-1, but Old Dominion went on to score two goals in the last four minutes of the half to take a 3-1 lead into halftime.

“We weren’t able to train in the rain so that was kind of an issue for us,” Head Coach Diane Drake said. “They were a much stronger team physically and athletically than we were told. I think our girls came in a little bit flatter than they should’ve.”

Second half scoring was sparse for more than 25 minutes before Kallenberger streaked on the right side and played a cross on the face of the goal to junior midfielder Mary Kate Lowry to get Mason’s scoring back on track.

“[Lowry] stepped up as a captain,” Drake said. “She made a difference, her will to change the game and turn it around.”

Ten minutes later, sophomore midfielder Nicole Clark put a shot on goal that was saved by the ODU goalkeeper, Brianna Alvarado, but senior forward Zoe Doherty was there to finish the scoring play to even out the match at 3-3.

“I think we need to start games a lot faster and come out and press teams a lot quicker in the first five minutes of every game,” Doherty said. “When we do that, we do really well.”

The scoring race was on and it was time for the Monarchs to respond to losing a 2-goal lead. Sixty-eight seconds after Doherty’s goal, sophomore goalkeeper Lyndse Hokanson extended her position, trying to come far out of the box, but was beat by the Monarchs’ Kate Kelly, who scored in the open net for the lead.

In any other soccer match, a lead with less than two minutes left would be safe, but in this offensive battle, Hokanson saved a shot and punted the ball long. Freshman midfielder Liz Hodges found the ball and after making a juke to get through the defensive line, beat the goalkeeper to the right from 25 yards out.

Points are hard to come by in CAA women’s play, so they took the point and went away near the top of the league in standings.

On Saturday, the men (4-2-2, 1-0) took it to the No. 11 Monarchs (4-1, 0-1) for their third consecutive ranked matchup to close out the home series. Despite six yellow cards in the game, two on the Patriots, they came out unscathed with a 1-0 win.

The lone goal came on a penalty kick taken by junior forward Taylor Morgan. The Monarchs’ goalkeeper Victor Francoz made the save to his right, but Morgan found the ball to finish the play and give the Patriots a 1-0 lead. It was Francoz’s one goal allowed despite saving eight shots on the night.

Morgan now leads the team with seven goals and is tied for second on the team with three assists in just eight games to bolster his role as the premier offensive player for the Patriots.

The Mason men take the week off before making a trip to Richmond to take on the VCU Rams 7 p.m. Saturday. Their next home game is Wednesday, Oct. 5, when they take on the Drexel Dragons 7 p.m. at George Mason Stadium.

To wrap up the weekend, the women (3-4-3, 0-1-1) made another stop on their road trip to play their second conference game against the William & Mary Tribe (7-1-2, 2-0). On the wet Sunday, the underdog Patriots fell to injury and the Tribe, losing by a 3-1 final score.
Junior defender Cami Verschooris started the game for an injured senior defender Kelly Thomas, but went down in the first half with a leg injury. The soft field was not nice to the Patriots.

“We’ve had weird injuries,” Drake said. “The surface didn’t help. It was like playing in quicksand. I think for both teams, it really slowed the pace of the game down dramatically.”

The Tribe came out with energy and their potent offense took over, retaining possession for most of the first half. Drake tried to change up the look in the goal by starting Hokanson instead of senior goalkeeper Alex Bodenshatz. Drake splits time between them, looking for a good performance out of one goalkeeper, but neither have had a completely mistake-free half yet.

Hokanson allowed two goals in the first half, one from a good finish from the Tribe offense and the foot of Mallory Shaffer and the other on a free kick headed in by Cortlyn Bristol.

Bodenshatz came in to keep it close, but the Tribe scored 95 seconds into the second half. Bodenzhatz came out of the box and left an opening for Shaffer to put the ball in the left side of the goal from 16 yards out.

On the other side of the field, Katherine Yount was working on her third consecutive clean sheet, as Doherty was dedicated to giving the Patriots a little momentum. As the game started to wind down, Anderson sent the ball from the left to Doherty, who placed the ball just under the crossbar from the middle of the field.

“It’s nice to disrupt anybody’s shutout,” Drake said. “But it was too late until they started attacking a little more urgently.

The game was hard to take, but the final goal made the loss a bit easier to handle.

They take on the VCU Rams on Thursday night in Richmond with a 7 p.m. start time, still on the hunt for their first conference win. The Rams sit at the bottom of the conference with a 0-2 conference record, going 2-7-1 overall.