Patriots Post First Winning Season in 4 Years
Jan. 8, 2003
FAIRFAX, VA ... The George Mason men's soccer team continued its steady improvement in 2002 as it posted its first winning season in four years. Led by second-year head coach Fran O'Leary, the Patriots got off to a strong start and finished at 8-7-4 overall, 3-4-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
George Mason opened the season with three consecutive wins and was unbeaten (4-0-2) in its first six games for the first time since 1996, the season of Mason's last NCAA Tournament appearance. The Patriots were ranked tied for third in the South Atlantic Region after the 4-0-2 start, their highest ranking of the year in a region that had nine teams selected for the NCAA Tournament.
Sophomore goalkeeper John O'Hara continued to impress as he was ranked nationally for goals-against average for much of the season, being ranked as high as fifth in the nation on Sept. 23. A first-team All-CAA selection after being the conference Rookie of the Year last season, O'Hara posted a 1.05 GAA and seven full shutouts (sharing another) with 81 saves in 19 games. Against CAA opponents, he also had a 1.05 GAA with 43 saves in nine games. O'Hara also received first-team All-Virginia and second-team All-South Atlantic Region honors.
O'Hara joined defenders senior Matt Friedman, junior Keith Nakai, sophomores Danny Climo and Helmis Matute and freshman Damian O'Rourke in anchoring a George Mason defense which allowed just 21 goals in 19 games (the fewest goals allowed since 1990). The Patriots had eight shutouts, four against CAA opponents, and blanked CAA champion Virginia Commonwealth in a 0-0 tie in Fairfax.
A second consecutive strong recruiting class showed immediate dividends as newcomers played a large role in the success of the Patriot offense in 2002, contributing 19 of George Mason's 28 goals (67.9 percent) and 13 of the 28 assists (46.4 percent). Freshman Steve Alabi, who earned All-CAA second-team honors, led the club with eight goals and 17 points, and he had two multi-goal games, including his first career hat trick with three goals vs. Delaware on Nov. 3.
O'Rourke was the CAA Rookie of the Year (Mason's second in a row) and a second-team all-conference pick in addition to being a second-team all-Virginia choice and a third-team Freshman All-American by College Soccer News. He showed his value to the club as he moved forward on set plays and contributed three goals and three assists to rank tied for second on the team with junior Barry Suber (four goals, one assist) at nine points. Three other freshmen - Kyle Hansen, Sean Malee and Mike Uremovich - each had two goals, and sophomore David Quinn (a transfer) contributed four assists to rank second on the team.
Suber led the veterans in scoring, and junior Mirza Kurspahic added two goals and three assists to rank fourth on the team with seven points. Climo led the Patriots with five assists.