Patriots to Host Penn in First Round of NCAA Men's Soccer Championship
Nov. 20, 2008
FAIRFAX, Va. - CAA Champion George Mason (13-6-2) will host Ivy League Champion Penn (11-2-4) in the First Round of the NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship on Friday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at George Mason Stadium. The winner of the opening round match will move on to face the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins (18-3-0) in the second round on Tuesday, Nov. 25 in College Park, Md.
Tickets to Friday's First Round NCAA Tournament match will be sold at the gate on the day of the match beginning at 6 p.m. and cost $7 for adults and $5 for senior citizens and youth (ages 18 and under). George Mason faculty and staff will be admitted to the match for $5 with a George Mason University ID. Full-time enrolled students will get in free with a George Mason ID. Children under two years of age will be admitted for free. Group tickets are available for $3 per ticket for parties of 15 or more and can be purchased in advance by calling the George Mason Athletic Ticket Office at 703-993-3270. Group tickets must be purchased by Thursday, Nov. 20 at 4:30 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased online by clicking here.
Both teams are nationally ranked heading into the match. With its run to the CAA Championship, the George Mason men's soccer team made its way into Soccer America's final Top-25 poll of the 2008 season. The Patriots are ranked 18th in the poll, which was released on Monday, Nov. 17. Mason is ranked fourth in the South Atlantic Region in the latest NSCAA/adidas poll and is in the others receiving votes section of the NSCAA/adidas and College Soccer News polls. Penn is 18th in the latest College Soccer News poll and 20th in the latest NSCAA/adidas poll. The Quakers are fourth in the NSCAA/adidas Northeast Region poll.
George Mason enters the tournament on a seven-match winning streak. The Patriots won their fifth Colonial Athletic Association championship in the history of the program, and the first since 1989, with Sunday's 1-0 shutout of Northeastern in Wilmington, N.C. In three CAA Championship matches, the Patriots outscored opponents 11-3, setting a school record for goals scored in a CAA Championship match with five in the quarterfinal round against Hofstra, and tying that record three days later in the semifinals against William and Mary.
Penn is unbeaten in its past five matches, with four wins and a tie. The Quakers earned the Ivy League's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament by taking first place in the conference standings during the regular season with a 5-1-1 record in conference matches. Penn shared an identical record with Dartmouth, but the Quakers held the tiebreaker over the Big Green with a 1-0 win in their lone meeting of the season. Unlike the Colonial Athletic Association, the Ivy League doesn't hold a conference tournament at the conclusion of the regular season.
The Patriots' potent offense led the Colonial Athletic Association in shots (356), points (110), goals (37), goals per game (1.76), assists (36) and assists per game (1.71). Senior forward and First-Team All-CAA selection Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe led the conference in points (24) and points per game (1.14), and was tied for the top spot in the conference in goals (9), game-winning goals (4) and assists (6). He was named the Soccer America Men's Player of the Week this past week, while adding TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News Team of the Week honors for his performance at the CAA Championship, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
While the Mason offense has garnered much of the attention after outscoring opponents 19-4 during its seven-match winning streak, the defense has been tough to score on as well. Three of the goals allowed during the streak were in the CAA Semifinal against William and Mary, with two of those coming on penalty kicks. Mason has recorded five shutouts in the past seven matches and nine total during the 2008 season. Junior goalkeeper Sean Kelley, a Third-Team All-CAA selection, started 19 matches during the season with a 0.92 goals against average and 70 saves. He ranked second in the conference in shutouts (9) and tied for third in save percentage (.795).
Penn opened the season with a 5-0-2 record with seven shutouts and closed the season with a 4-0-1 record and four shutouts in its final five matches. The Quakers have posted a total of 11 shutouts this season. Senior goalkeeper Drew Healy, a Second-Team All-Ivy League selection, ranked 14th in the nation in save percentage (.855) and 16th in goals against average (.606) for a team that was 11th in the country out of 204 NCAA Division I Men's Soccer programs in goals against average. The Quakers' offensive attack is paced by senior forward and First-Team All-Ivy League selection Omid Shokoufandeh, who had 22 points this season with nine goals, including five game-winners, and four assists.
George Mason has made nine appearances in the NCAA Tournament in the history of the program, compiling a 4-9 record in those appearances. The Patriots last tournament appearance came during the 2006 season when Mason lost 1-0 to Bucknell in overtime at George Mason Stadium in the first round. Penn has appeared in the tournament seven times in the history of the program, with the last appearance coming during the 2002 season, when the Quakers advanced to the second round before falling to Connecticut 4-0. George Mason and Penn have met once in the history of the two programs, with the Patriots taking a 1-0 victory on Sept. 12, 1999.