Butcher, Patriots blank Tribe in weekend win

The Mason men's soccer team huddles together before a game. (photo courtesy of Mason Athletics)
The Mason men's soccer team huddles together before a game. (photo courtesy of Mason Athletics)

Perhaps it was the frigid October night or the fatigue from only a couple days rest that led to the George Mason men’s soccer team's slow start Saturday night against their Colonial Athletic Association rivals, William & Mary (2-9-3, 0-4-2). But unlike the weather, the Patriots (9-4, 2-3) settled in and heated up as they went on to a 2-0 win.

A bundled-up crowd of just over 1,000 at George Mason Stadium, watched a first half where both teams traded chances, but neither team could finish.

The Mason defense, made up of Zak Haapaoja, Paul Andrews, Hugh Roberts and Chase Miller to start the game, stood tall as the Tribe threatened with several chances in the opening minutes. But each one was thwarted by the Patriots.

When William & Mary was finally able to beat the Mason defensive corps, Dustin Butcher, the team’s goalkeeper, was in perfect position to turn away their scoring opportunities.

 “Dustin came up big,” said Mason head coach Greg Andrulis, in his eighth season as the team’s head coach. “It was 0-0 and they had two looks at the goal, they could’ve been up first and even when we were ahead they had a couple more chances.”

Mason opened the scoring in the 51st minute, off a set piece on a corner kick from Ghiles Harmouche.

“We scouted them and they play a zone, we thought it was a soft zone in the front . . . and it’s a two-part thing, you have to have a good service and Harmouche put it right where Paul [Andrews] could get a touch on it.”

The corner kick floated into the box and Andrews, the towering 6-foot-5-inch defender, was waiting to use his head. It was Andrews’ first goal of the season, but not the first time the team executed the play.

“We work on set pieces every week before the game,” said Andrews, who tied his goal total from the 2011 campaign. “In the scouting reports from the coaches we saw there was a weakness on the front post and we took advantage of that and got a goal.”

In the 77th minute, Butcher made two saves seconds apart, one on leading Tribe scorer Ben Anderson, and another on defender Andrew Hinnant, preserving the 1-0 Mason lead.

William & Mary threatened again with a corner kick in the 80th minute, but as was the case all night, the effort was denied by the Patriot defense.

In the 86th minute, Mason set up a quick-developing play deep inside Tribe territory. Midfielder Julio Arjona sent a ball wide inside the eighteen-yard box to Benjamin Paris, who crossed it across the face of the goal for senior midfielder Taylor Morgan -- the co-leader for goals in the CAA -- who scored his ninth goal of the season, sealing a 2-0 Mason victory.

“These [interconference] games are more important,” said Morgan. “If we’re going to continue into Nov. and Dec. we need to win these games.”

 The win was the second in five CAA games this season for the Patriots, who will face conference foes for the remainder of the 2012 season.

“Every game is a nail-biter,” said Andrulis. “Our conference from top to bottom is really good, we’re battling a bunch of injuries and we’ve take our lumps here a little bit, but hopefully we can start getting some guys back and make a run here for it at the end.

The Patriots will be back in action Wednesday when they travel to face Towson University at 3 p.m. 

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)
Student Media Group: