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.
The George Mason wrestling team was off this past weekend but the other three winter sports were all in action as men’s basketball, women’s basketball and the swimming and diving teams all competed over the weekend.
Let’s start with the men’s basketball team. The Patriots took their fourth-straight win, beating UNCW 80-52. None of those opponents have scored more than 55 points against the Patriots. In Mason’s six wins, it’s holding the opposition to an average of 52 points while in its losses, it’s given up 80 points. For the Patriots, the victory over the Seahawks marked the sixth straight over the conference foe, the longest winning streak ever for Mason against UNCW. Andre Cornelius, Mike Morrison and Ryan Pearson have never lost to the Seahawks. We’ll see if that holds up with at least three more meetings between the teams before that trio departs Fairfax. Now the big story heading into the game with Loyola on Wednesday night (7 p.m. on MASN) is that senior Cam Long needs just two points to reach 1,000 for his career.
Here are some of the stories from the media after that contest:
The women’s basketball team wasn’t as fortunate in their local meetings as the men’s team. The Patriots lost to George Washington on Sunday as the Colonials closed the game with a 23-12 run to beat Mason, 67-58. This came a few days after Mason led American 39-34 before losing, 46-43. The losses are disappointing, but it’s clear that if the Patriots can play tougher down the stretch during the upcoming five-game homestand, a .500 record heading into conference play is within reach. Three Patriots are averaging double figures with Brittany Poindexter at 10.6 ppg and Amber Easter and Taleia Moton both at 10.0 ppg.
Finally, the swim teams competed at the US Short Course Swimming National Championships and Ashley Danner had the top performance of any Mason athlete as she was 7th in the 200-yard breaststroke. Danner also competed in the 100-yard breaststroke finishing 11th. Danner also was 36th in the 200-yard individual medley. The other Mason swimmers with top 50 finishes were Preston Wolter, who was 37th in the 1650-yard freestyle and 41ast in the 400-yard individual medley; and Paige Impink, who was 42nd in the 100-yard backstroke.
The swim team is off until January but the wrestling team will be back in action this week with a tri-meet against Rutgers and Princeton on Saturday. Each basketball team will take the court twice more though before Finals begin. The women’s team hosting Stony Brook on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Ohio on Sunday at 2 p.m. while the men’s team will host Loyola on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and play at Liberty on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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!”