In a game riddled with fouls and missed calls, it was not a surprise that the better team did not win Saturday night. William and Mary (6-3, 1-1 CAA) out-shot, out-possessed and, for the majority of the match, outworked George Mason (7-2, 2-0 CAA), but when time expired it was the Patriots who emerged with the 1-0 victory at Albert-Daly Field.
“We expected them to be just like they were — to be good, to be physical,” junior midfielder Nat Baako said. “We played well, we just didn’t execute our chances well. We weren’t patient enough in front of the goal. They had one chance and that was it for them, really, and that was all they needed.”
Mason’s lone goal came in the 53rd minute. Ernesto Marquez snuck into the box unmarked and tapped in a low cross at the near post for the game’s only score. The Patriots relied on tough defense and physical play the rest of the way.
Marquez’s first goal of the year served as a wake-up call for the Tribe, which began the second half on its heels. The College recovered to register 11 second half shots, including junior forward Alan Koger’s challenge in the 88th minute that rang off the post before freshman midfielder Chris Perez pushed the rebound wide of an empty net.
“The response [to Marquez’s goal] was good,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “We continue to go in a period at the beginning of the second half that [opposing teams] come out and outwork us. And it’s a shame, because I think for the majority of the game we were the better team.”
With Mason’s defense pushed back, the College had a large advantage in possession. However, the Patriots forced the play to the outside of the pitch and the Tribe struggled to find room in the center for quality chances without senior forward Andrew Hoxie, who left the game in the eighth minute due to injury.
Baako and Koger led the College with five and six shots, respectively. Baako’s best chance came in the 21st minute after his initial shot was denied before collecting the loose ball and drilling a waist-high attempt toward the net. The ball was blocked in the box by a Mason defender’s outstretched arm, but no handball was called.
The non-call was one of six unofficially tallied handballs by the Patriots, including two inside of the 18. In the game, there were a combined 34 fouls and two yellow cards.
“[The physical play] definitely affected the rhythm a little bit,” Baako said. “We love to move the ball around. The way they were playing physically, it made our rhythm a little bit off.”
The College finished the match with 19 of the game’s 31 shots and a 5-4 advantage in corner kicks. Junior goalie Andrew McAdams was strong when called upon, making four saves — three in the second half.
“I don’t think [the better team won],” Baako said. “I think we were the better team. The shots on goal, the possession of the ball shows that. We dominated the game. That’s soccer for you; it’s not always the better team wins.”
The Tribe returns to finish its three-game home swing Wednesday night when the team hosts Old Dominion at 7 p.m. at Albert-Daly Field.
GAME NOTES: Andrew Hoxie started in only nine of 21 games last season due to a groin injury … Andrew McAdams extended his streak of not allowing a first half goal to 11 games … The Tribe now holds a 22-15-5 all-time record against George Mason … The College recorded six of the game’s last seven shots.