FAIRFAX, Va. – George Mason senior Sarah Hardison scored two goals early in the second half and the Patriots held on for a 2-1 win over Dayton on Sunday to stay unbeaten in conference play.
Mason (8-3-0, 2-0-0 A-10) began the game with heavy pressure in the Dayton end of the field and had a number of chances in the game's first four minutes. That set the tone for the day, as the Patriots controlled the pace throughout the first half. The Flyers defense recorded a number of key blocks to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard and both teams were scoreless after 45 minutes.
“Even though it was a little frustrating that we didn't score after we had created some really good chances in the first half, we used that at halftime to talk about the confidence that should give us,” Mason head coach Todd Bramble said. “To know that we can play with Dayton, that level of confidence allowed us to get those goals.”
All three goals in the contest were scored in an eight minute span in the second half.
Hardison broke the ice in the 53rd minute when she scored from right in front of the goal to give Mason a 1-0 advantage. Senior Alex Myers and junior Nicolette Herdegen picked up the assists on Hardison's sixth goal of the season. Myers has two goals and three assists in her last four games, while Herdegen recorded her first assist of the season.
“We were pressing hard and off the cross I was lucky to be there at the back post,” Hardison said. “It's exciting and we have to keep this momentum going forward. I'm not trying to focus on scoring goals, I'm just trying to help the team and they are finding me on crosses and I just happen to be in the right place at the right time.”
Hardison increased the Mason lead to 2-0 in the 57th minute, finding the back of the net off of a corner kick by junior Kaila Williams. Four of Hardison's seven goals this season have been the first goal of the game for the Patriots and she tallied all three goals for Mason this week. Williams is now tied for the team lead with four assists.
“Sarah is doing what she loves to do and that's score goals,” Bramble said. “All of that is happening because we have a lot good attacking players as well. With the play that we are getting from our wide players, we are a quality attacking team.”
Dayton (2-6-2, 0-1-1 A-10) dented the scoreboard when junior Alexis Kiehl scored her fifth goal of the season, converting on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute. That would be the only goal the Flyers would score against Mason senior goalkeeper Kirsten Glad, who finished the day with four saves to earn the win. Glad has allowed one or fewer goals in seven of her eight victories this season.
The Patriots outshot the Flyers 14-13 including a 6-5 edge in shots on goal in the contest.
The victory was the first for Mason over Dayton in 28 years. Before Sunday, the Patriots lone win over the Flyers was a 1-0 victory in Fairfax, Va. during the 1988 season.
The Patriots have won a season-high four straight games, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 10-4. Mason has won at least four straight games for the first time since 2009, when the Patriots won the final five games of the regular season.
“That feels good,” said Bramble of the winning streak. “We're trying to win our home games in the conference, that's important. I'm really proud of the team and happy for them that they got this result today.”
After finishing the 2015 campaign with a 4-4-0 record at home, Mason improved to 6-2-0 at George Mason Stadium this season.
The Patriots will play their next two games on the road, with a stop at UMass on Thursday, Oct. 6 and a match at Saint Louis on Sunday, Oct. 9.