[PREVIEW] 2013 NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament -- George Mason vs. New Mexico (Round 2)

Mason men's soccer team will take on New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA tournament (photo by Gopi Raghu).
Mason men's soccer team will take on New Mexico in the second round of the NCAA tournament (photo by Gopi Raghu).

On Thursday night, Mason men’s soccer team survived the roulette of penalties for the second time in its last four games to defeat a strong College of William and Mary side in the first round of the NCAA tournament. With the teams locked at 2-2 after 110 minutes of play, it was the composure and accuracy of Julio Arjona, Zach Herstek, Wes Sever and Chase Miller from the penalty spot, as well as a pair of saves by Steffen Kraus in the frame of the goal, that made the difference and sent the Patriots through.

In today’s second round, the Patriots, who are now on a 13-game unbeaten streak, will travel to Albuquerque, NM to face the University of New Mexico. The Lobos (11-5-2) received a first-round bye and were rewarded the No. 7 overall seed in the tournament due to their impressive regular season resume. The team, led by coach Jeremy Fishbein, had a record of 3-1-2 against NCAA tournament participants and two of those wins came against teams with top-10 seeds (No. 6 Georgetown University and No. 10 University of California-Santa Barbara). Other impressive wins came against then No. 10 seed University of Alabama-Birmingham, 4-3, and No. 13 University of Tulsa, 1-0.

The Lobos have outscored opponents 31-18 this year, with an overwhelming advantage of 17-8 in the second half. The team demonstrated balanced scoring throughout the season. Midfielder Niko Hansen, the Lobos’ leading scorer, has seven goals and four assists on his account. Forward James Rogers and midfielder Michael Calderon are each just a goal behind, while also registering five and three assists, respectively. Three additional Lobos have scored at least three goals. Starting goalkeeper Michael Lisch has allowed .92 goals per game and made a total of 37 saves for a .685 average. Mason’s Kraus has made 60 saves for an average of 0.800, a comparison that compliments the defensive line in front of Lisch.

In their last game, however, the Lobos lost their Conference-USA semifinal 3-0 to the Tulsa Hurricanes. Talking to LoboTV after Monday’s Selection Show, Fishbein said that although he was unhappy with the result, he felt that his team was not as overplayed as the result indicates. The coach also mentioned that his players will be fully ready for today’s match, and emphasized that home field advantage without the strain of heavy travel will work in their favor.

“I think we will be a little angry. [We’ve] got a little something to prove, have a little more bite to us, and the challenge is out there,” said Fishbein. “These guys want to do well and they want to play well for the crowd. That is for sure.”

The game, which will be the first meeting between the two teams, will kick-off at 7 p.m. at the University of New Mexico Soccer Complex.


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