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GoMason Blog Presents the Top 10 Mason Moments of 2010

What kind of blog would the GoMason Blog be if we didn’t give you a year-end top-10 highlights?

Here, in chronological order, is a very unsophisticated look 2010’s top-10 Mason moments:

January 30 – The men’s basketball team beats James Madison, 70-68, to tie the school record with its 17th-straight home win over a CAA opponent. In the process, the Patriots improved to 10-1 in the CAA, the best 11-game start in conference play in school history.

February 28 – The women’s basketball team tops Georgia State, 47-43, picking up its 10th win of the year. It marked Mason’s first 10-win season since 2005-06 as the Patriots also picked up their first two-game conference win streak in four years.

March 19 – Ashley Danner capped a brilliant sophomore season with a runner-up finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Swimming Championships. What did it take for Arizona’s Ann Chandler to beat Danner?  An NCAA record and the second-fastest time in history. Danner had three All-American finishes at the meet while Kristen Meier became just the second female Patriot to ever compete at the NCAA Diving Championships.

March 20 – Becky Anderson pitched the fourth perfect game in school history as she recorded 15 straight outs to beat Georgia State 8-0 in the second game of a doubleheader. Anderson went on to be named All-CAA for the third time in her career as she set a school record with a 1.29 ERA and seven complete-game shutouts.

May 1 – The men’s track and field team captures the CAA Track and Field Championship, the fourth in program history but the first since 1995. The women’s team, meanwhile, placed second, its highest finish since 2004. Grace Mavugara was the Outstanding Women’s Field Performer after sweeping the long and triple jumps.

May 8 – The softball team closed the season with a three-game sweep of Delaware, missing the CAA Tournament by one game but finishing with a 21-24 record. It was the highest win total for the program since 2005 and the fifth-place finish in the CAA was the highest finish in conference since 2002.

May 23 – Ryan Soares finished off one of the best seasons in school history by setting one CAA record and two school records as the baseball team ended the year with a 17-9 win over Towson. Soares entered the game tied for the CAA single-season record for doubles and the Mason school record for career doubles and he hit two to break both marks. He entered the day with a chance to break the school record for single-season batting average and he didn’t falter, going 5 of 6 to finish with a .438 batting average, shattering the mark of .420 set in 1985. Soares was a first-team All-American and finalist for the Wallace Award, given to the nation’s top shortstop.

Oct. 29 – The women’s soccer team just missed a spot in the CAA Tournament in 2009, finishing the season tied with JMU for the fourth seed and missing out on a tiebreaker. This year, Mason didn’t allow it to come to a tiebreaker as the Patriots beat Towson 2-0 in the season finale to earn the third seed into the CAA Tournament. It was Mason’s first trip to the CAA Tournament since 2007 and the Patriots brought their A game to Hofstra. It took penalty kicks against JMU to end Mason’s season after the teams tied at 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes.

Nov. 21 – Laura Sinclair put together a terrific sophomore season as she was CAA Runner of the Week multiple times, was named All-CAA and All-East, set the Delaware Invitational event record and was Mason’s top runner in every single meet. She finished second at the ECAC Championships.

Dec. 30 – Cayle Byers was expected to have a big year in 2009-10 but he ended up redshirting the season due to injury. He returned with a vengeance this season. Byers started the year 16-0 and beat the No. 1-ranked wrestler in the nation. His undefeated year came to an end when he fell in the finals of the Southern Scuffle to the nation’s second-ranked wrestler.


GoMason Blog presents the Mason Playoff Picture

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the fall sports seasons are slowly coming to a close and that means it’s time to take a look at the postseason picture for all of Mason’s teams.

Let’s start by taking a look at the women’s soccer team. This Friday at 2 p.m., the Patriots will play at Towson and Mason is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. Currently tied for third, a win or a tie will put Mason into the four-team tournament. Mason (10-7-1, 6-4-0) will look for its seventh-straight win over Towson (6-10-3, 2-7-1), a team that has not beaten Mason since Diane Drake took over as head coach prior to the 2004 season. GoMason.com will have a live blog of all the action from Towson on Friday.

Next up are the cross country teams. The CAA Championships will be contested on Saturday at Wilmington, N.C. Last year the men’s team finished second paced by Everett Hackett, who was second, Sam Horn, who was tenth, and Scott Tekesky, who was 12th. Both Hackett and Tekesky return this season. Last year, the women were third, with Rochelle Sceats finishing fifth and Laura Sinclair finishing tenth. Both are back and running well, especially Sinclair who has twice been named CAA Runner of the Week.

The men’s soccer team has three matches remaining and they currently sit in a three-way tie for fifth, just two points behind three teams tied for second. Mason’s remaining matches come against Hofstra, also tied for fifth, and Georgia State and UNC Wilmington, both tied for second. It would be an understatement to say that the remaining matches are meaningful. The good news is, the Patriots control their own ability to get to the postseason. Three wins and they will, at worst, finish third. There are plenty of other combinations as well that will get them into the CAA Tournament, which they last won in 2008. Hofstra and VCU (which is also in second place) still have to play first-place William & Mary as does UNCW which finishes with three straight road matches. The Patriots have never needed fan support more than they do in their two remaining home games – Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. The Patriots are currently second in the conference in average home attendance.

Finally, there’s the DEFENDING CAA CHAMPION WOMEN’S VOLLEYBALL TEAM. The Patriots, who are the DEFENDING CAA CHAMPIONS are tied for third with James Madison, with which they split their two matches this year. The Patriots, who are the DEFENDING CAA CHAMPIONS, trail second-place VCU by a half game but Mason lost its only meeting this year with the Rams. The DEFENDING CAA CHAMPION Patriots have matches remaining with first-place Delaware, which they will only face once this year, fifth-place Northeastern and Georgia State, and Hofstra, Towson and UNCW, three teams that are a combined 4-22 in conference play.

GoMason.com and the GoMason Blog will keep you up to date on the postseason picture for all of Mason’s sports.


It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Weekend at Mason

Short of Homecoming, you can’t get a bigger weekend for Mason Athletics than this one.

Let’s start with the obvious. Tonight is Mason Madness, when fans get their first look at the men’s and women’s basketball teams. Doors open at 9 p.m., activities begin at 9:30 p.m. The GoMason Blog is hyped for the dunk contest. Can’t WAIT to see what Ryan Pearson, Mike Morrison and Andre Cornelius pull out this season. In case you don’t remember, last year, along with Kevin Foster (who has since transferred), they were Green Lantern, Batman and Spiderman.

Check out 2:15 into this clip.

Check out GoMason.com as well as GoMason Blog tomorrow for highlights and interviews from Mason Madness.

Now on to competitions that actually COUNT in the standings.

The women’s volleyball team hosts a pair of matches this weekend, first taking on William & Mary tonight and then hosting VCU on Saturday (both matches at 7 p.m.). The Patriots are 5-0 on the year while William & Mary is 2-3 and VCU is 3-2. Saturday is a very big match as not only is it the Dig Pink match, it’s also the first time these teams have faced since Mason ripped the hopes of a CAA title out of VCU’s hands. The Rams hosted the conference tournament last year as the No. 1 seed and had beaten Mason during the regular season. The Patriots promptly crushed their dreams to earn the conference’s at-large berth into the CAA Tournament.

The cross country teams head north this weekend as the men’s team competes at Penn State while the women are running at Princeton. The swimming and diving teams will take on both James Madison and Delaware in a tri-meet in Newark, Del.

Tomorrow night the men’s soccer team will host James Madison looking to build off the momentum from Wednesday’s win at Towson. It was a dramatic victory for the Patriots who hadn’t beaten the Tigers since 2004. The Patriots are just four points out of fourth place right now with six matches to play. Mason has already played three of the top five teams in the current conference standings, so things should get a little easier from here on out. Of course that is all relative, as six CAA teams are ranked in the top 41 in the RPI, including the Dukes.

But of all the events this weekend, few are as important as the women’s soccer matches against UNC Wilmington and Georgia State. The Patriots host those schools and they can smell the CAA Tournament. First off, let’s all agree that it’s highly unlikely the CAA Tournament won’t go through Hofstra. The Pride have won 12 straight and are 6-0 n the conference. That leaves three spots left in the tournament and seven teams have legitimate shots at making it. In second place is Georgia State. The Patriots will host the Panthers (4-1-1) on Sunday at 1 p.m as part of Senior Day. Before they get to GSU, Mason will take on UNCW tonight at 6 p.m. The Seahawks and Patriots are both 4-2-0 in the conference, tied for third, just one point behind GSU. James Madison is tied with Mason and UNCW while William & Mary (3-2-1), Northeastern (2-3-1) and Towson (2-3-1) lurk behind. Come Sunday afternoon, the CAA postseason picture could become a lot more clear, or a lot more murky.

“One player who would love to end her Mason career with a trip to the CAA Tournament is Capricia Alston. As a freshman, she went to the tournament when Mason traveled to James Madison and lost in the opening round, 2-1. She is one of three current Mason women’s soccer players to taste the postseason. Here is her blog entry on this weekend as the Patriots say farewell to their seniors.

“This weekend is probably one of the biggest weekends for our team thus far. We play UNCW, tied for third place with us and JMU, and Georgia State, ranked second. This weekend is not only a strong indicator for what teams will continue into the conference tournament, but more importantly it will also test our character. Recently suffering a 5-0 loss against a Hofstra team that was undefeated in conference, we left Long Island with our heads hung low. We are aware that when we bring our full potential we are a tremendous threat, and when we don’t, that kind of score is the result. The hanging question for us now is can we pull it together and consistently bring that potential to our last five games, starting with Friday. I think we can, and I know I am not alone.

“For four of us (Omolyn Davis, Evan Feldman, Kimmy Moss and myself), this weekend holds an even more special place in our hearts. As seniors, these are our last home games EVER, and with family members and coaches coming from locations as far as Jamaica and California, I am positive that we want nothing more than to leave our beloved field with a bang. After a hard week of competitive practices and shooting drills, I think the entire team feels that way as well. We all realize how important these two games are for our season, and we are determined to prove this one game at a time.

“Last year we disappointedly fell short against both teams, with both matches resulting in ties. We were disappointed with not only the results, but also our performance. Knowing this, we do not intend on letting this occur again. It is coming down to crunch time and I believe that we are capable of taking on the challenge. We are out for blood, and what better time to go hunting than our last couple of opportunities in our own territory?

“We just have to remember one thing, and it’s this – “we’re gonna bring that blood and pain,” and we’re going to bring it TOGETHER starting Friday!”


Women’s Soccer Player Blog by Evan Feldman

Big weekend at home for three of the four sports currently in season. This afternoon at 4 p.m, the women’s soccer team will play VCU in a match that was postponed from yesterday (more on that in a minute). Tomorrow, the cross country teams will host their lone meet of the season as they compete at Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg at 10 a.m. Later in the day, the men’s soccer team will host VCU at 5 p.m. The weekend is capped on Saturday night when the Patriot Club hosts its annual Champions Dinner. That will take place at Mason Inn with a 7 p.m. Reception and an 8 p.m. Dinner and Awards Program. Lindsay Czarniak of NBC Sports will be the Keynote Speaker as the 1985 National Champion Women’s Soccer Team is honored on the 25th anniversary of their bringing home the first-ever team national title to Fairfax.

Back to women’s soccer. The Patriots are 2-0 in the CAA for the first time since 2000 and they will look to go to 3-0 for the first time since 1997. That year, incidentally, they began the year 6-0 in CAA play. Mason will be hosting VCU, a team that beat the Patriots 2-1 last year in overtime. Both VCU goals came on penalty kicks. A tie in that match and Mason makes the CAA Tournament last year rather than tying for fourth and missing out on a tiebreaker.

Evan Feldman, who scored her first career goal on Sunday against William & Mary wrote this week’s women’s soccer player blog.

“As we enter the second weekend of conference play, it is such a great feeling to have two wins under our belts! This past weekend was so exciting for the team giving us the momentum and drive we need to enter our games against VCU and JMU. What better way to start the third phase of our season than on our beautiful stadium field and coming out 2-0 to open up the conference season.

“Each game we play, we grow more and more to find our rhythm and style. Throughout our non-conference season, we worked together to sort out our kinks to find what system fit our personnel. That’s what non-conference play is for. It was a true test of our character and team morale. We even experienced some of that feeling when we stepped out on the field last Friday against ODU. We found ourselves fighting to try to gain momentum to come back from a flat first half. We knew at half-time that our performance was not an indication of how much we’ve grown since August, especially after competing against Maryland. By the second half and into overtime we started to find the tempo we were looking for.  As a unit we defended together and created countless opportunities. Finally after persistent effort we were able to get the ball in the back of the net. After the game we accepted that the first half was a learning experience and that we needed to compete together for 90 minutes from kickoff. Immediately after the game our heads were only in one place – Sunday’s game against William and Mary.

“There was such a bright atmosphere Sunday afternoon. The team was glowing with energy and optimism. It was so obvious. Entering the game against William and Mary, we finally came out at the first whistle with full force. It was great to see the team possess and create chances from the start – the way Mason soccer does it! We set the tone for the game and dictated how William and Mary responded to us. With intense momentum and pure possession we were able to score early. But as it happens in soccer, there were minutes of break down where William and Mary took advantage to tie the game soon after our lead. There will always be ups and downs in the game. How we handle it as a team is what determines our fate. And with that, through will and determination, we were able to gain our lead in the last ten minutes of the first half. From there, it was evident that we had the will and confidence we needed to solidify the win by putting away two more goals in the second half. A perfect end to a great opening weekend.

“We now know after competing against teams like Maryland and having such a successful weekend, that we are a force in the CAA. We will take this weekend one game at a time with VCU Friday and JMU Sunday, respecting both teams but knowing that we are a top contender. All we have to do is come together as a unit and battle for 90 minutes. When we work together we find success.  Both games are very personal to us, but the game is simple. We play free and for each other and let the past be ammunition to our success. That’s why we love the game.”


Weekend Warm-Up

It’s another busy weekend for Mason student-athletes with both soccer teams competing locally.
The women’s volleyball team gets the weekend started at the Virginia Tournament as the Patriots face Stony Brook today at 4 p.m. Tomorrow evening, Mason will face host-school Virginia at 7 p.m. The women’s volleyball team is 4-6 on the year but they have lost their past three outings as they were winless at the Rutgers Tournament last weekend. Stony Brook is 4-7 on the season while the Cavaliers are 5-4. Holly Goode continues to lead Mason in kills with 100 and she is third in digs and blocks with 91 and 21, respectively.

Next up is the women’s soccer team which travels to College Park tonight to take on the seventh-ranked Terrapins. That’s right, Maryland is ranked No. 7 in the nation and the Patriots will put their three-match winning streak on the line against the Terps, who are 7-0-0 on the year. Mason (4-2-0) will be playing its final non-conference match of the year against quite possibly the toughest opponent it will face all season. Mason last played Maryland in 2008. One thing going in Mason’s favor is the last time the Patriots beat Maryland came when the Terrapins were nationally ranked. Omolyn Davis continues to be among the nation’s best in assists as she already has six to go with four goals.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams will head up to Newark to compete in the Delaware Invitational as the Patriots look to continue their strong early-season running. The men won last weekend at the JMU Open while the women, who last competed two weeks ago, finished second at the Mount St. Mary’s 5k Duals.

Finishing off the weekend is the men’s soccer team. The Patriots, who are 3-1-0 with their lone loss coming in overtime to nationally-ranked Penn, host Richmond in the first regular-season home match of the year. The Patriots are ranked seventh in the NSCAA South Atlantic region along with six other CAA schools. Mason also is receiving votes in the national poll. Along with four other CAA schools.

Wingstock ’10 presented by Hard Times Café will also take place at the men’s soccer match. There will be free wings and t-shirts for the first 400 students with a valid Mason student ID. At halftime, there will be a wing-eating contest with a $500 cash prize, courtesy of Ken’s Blue Cheese Dressing.


Weekend Warm-Up: Soccer, volleyball, basketball and much more

A nice hodgepodge of news items to send you into the weekend here on the GoMason Blog.

Just one Mason team in action at home this weekend, as the Patriot men’s tennis team is hosting its Fall Invitational on the RAC tennis courts on Saturday and Sunday. If you are making your way up the I-95 Corridor, be sure to stop in Philadelphia for men’s soccer’s two matches in the City of Brotherly Love. The Patriots take part in the Penn Soccer Classic, facing the host Quakers tonight at 8 and another Big 5 school, Villanova, on Sunday at noon.

The women’s volleyball team, meanwhile, is slightly farther north in New Brunswick, N.J., as part of the Rutgers Invitational. Mason is facing the Scarlet Knights tonight at 7, then face TCU and Princeton on Saturday afternoon. Finally, men’s cross country is off to New Market, Va., for JMU’s Invitational on Saturday morning.

Mason Madness is just over a month away and we know that even with that “other sport” starting up this weekend, hoops is on the brain for all Mason fans. As you may have heard elsewhere, the Patriot Center is going to be hosting the Washington Wizards’ preseason training camp later this month. From the Wizards’ official release:

“We’re thrilled that our fans will be able to take part in the official start of the season and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to reach out to potential new fans in Northern Virginia.”

There’ll be much more going on than just some layup drills. The Wizards are going to be putting on their own version of the “Madness,” with the first practice at midnight on Tuesday, September 28. They’re promising special giveaways and incentives for Mason students, so you’ll definitely want to be a part of it. The Wizards are making the short trip across the river to Fairfax for the first time after spending the last six seasons at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond. Can you blame them?

One final note to wrap up the week: after the visit by FIFA to Mason on Tuesday to scope out George Mason Stadium as a possible training site for the U.S. World Cup bid, the soccer world has taken notice of what Mason is offering. U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati had plenty of kind words for the Patriots’ pitch:

“You saw a phenomenal facility: a world-class surface, a set of stands that can [provide] seclusion, almost perfect from what a national team would want around the World Cup.”

Well put, Mr. President.


Saturday in the Park

It was a good weekend to be wearing the Green and Gold.
The men’s soccer team, after second-place finishes each of the past two seasons, finally broke through and won the D.C. College Cup, beating American on the Eagles’ home field, 1-0. The Patriots scored midway through the first half and survived some ridiculously good shots by American. The Eagles had a slew of scoring opportunities but the Patriots stepped up repeatedly. Maybe that’s why a pair of Mason defenders were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Mason probably doesn’t win the D.C. College Cup without contributions from their freshmen. Sean Cote, Alex Herrera and Wesley Sever all started for the Patriots while Hugh Roberts, Geaton Caltabiano and Zak Haapaoja all played significant roles in the wins. It was just a few weeks ago that Mason’s recruiting class was named 13th in the nation and they showed why in the victory. Here’s Mason junior Eber Martinez speaking about how satisfying the win was and how well the Mason defense and midfield played in the two games:

The men’s team will return to action next weekend, playing at Penn on Friday night at 8 p.m. and at Villanova on Sunday at Noon.

The women’s volleyball team got off strong in the Patriot Invitational, rallying from two sets down on Friday night to beat Army, then topping West Virginia on Saturday morning, 3-0. A win over Charlotte in the nightcap would give Mason the Patriot Invitational title for the third time in four seasons. Holly Goode and Kelsey Bohman have picked up where they left off last year, leading the team in kills and blocks, respectively. Danielle Cook and Kelly McCarter have each made contributions this year.

The women’s soccer team may not have beaten 22nd-ranked Georgetown, but don’t think some important things didn’t happen at North Kehoe Field. Midway through the first half, Zoe Doherty made her Mason debut after missing the first three games. She was cleared by the NCAA on Friday evening and the transfer from Dublin City University in Ireland finally got on the pitch. Mason coaches think she will be an impact forward for the team. Also making her collegiate debut in net was Lyndse Hokanson. The freshman who did play in the field against Howard found her way into the net against the Hoyas. Hokanson, who may be the future in net for the Patriots, allowed two goals but did make three saves INCLUDING stopping a penalty kick.

Hokanson’s instincts proved right when Caitlin Durkee lined up for a PK in the 89th minute and as Hokanson went low and to her left stopping the shot cold.
We have it on good authority that Georgetown head coach Dave Nolan, who was an assistant under Mason head coach Diane Drake when she was with the Hoyas, might have mentioned to his team that he didn’t want his former boss to pick up her 100th career win on their field. Drake will look for that milestone on Monday against American in a match played at Georgetown as part of the D.C. Invitational.

Finally, the women’s cross country team has run once this season but has a 5-1 record. That’s right, the women’s cross country team is 5-1 after competing at the Mount St. Mary’s 5K Duals. The meet was scored using the dual-meet format, so Mason beat Mount St. Mary’s, Maryland, UMBC, Saint Francis (Pa.) and George Washington, but lost to American. Laura Sinclair was third overall while Sandy Castro and Victoria Saimyn were eighth and ninth, respectively. The women’s cross country team will return to action on Sept. 18 at the Delaware Invitational.