FAIRFAX, Va. – In five minutes, victory was snatched away from the George Mason men's soccer team.
The Patriots allowed two late goals – one at the end of regulation and one barely a minute into overtime – in a 2-1 loss to Siena on Saturday night at George Mason Stadium. The Saints scored the game-tying goal in the 87th minute and ended the game abruptly in overtime with a golden goal just 80 seconds in.
The loss kept Mason (2-5-1) from winning back-to-back games for the first time this season and closed out non-conference play as the Patriots begin Atlantic 10 Conference play next week.
“For us, we just struggled to find rhythm for long stretches of times,” George Mason head coach Greg Andrulis said. “We had parts but we just weren't able to get that second goal that would have made it a little bit easier. Our Achilles heel has been giving up multiple goals and we found a way to do it again tonight. Until we solve that it is going to be tough to get results.”
The Patriots led 1-0 thanks to a first-half goal but Siena struck late on a set piece for the equalizer. Off a corner kick, Junior Rosero hammered in a shot from the left side of the box. The shot was blocked but the deflection bounced right J.C. Obregon, who buried the rebound in the back corner to tie the game with 3:38 left.
The Saints (2-5-2) then quickly ended the game in overtime. Eamonn Conway sent a pass up the field in Mason territory and Rosero flicked it off his heel past the Patriots defense. Matt Crisafulli received the pass and found himself all alone with Mason goalkeeper Tomas Lapnas. Crisafulli floated a shot past a diving Lapnas and into the left corner of the net for the game-winner.
“Late in the game, we give up a (corner) kick that ties it and momentum shifts,” Andrulis said. “I thought we would be OK going into overtime. But we just got caught ball watching there. It is too bad for Tom because it his first college start. He had actually been playing very well. I don't think we can fault him on either one of those goals. He made some tremendous saves early in the game when we needed them that kept us in it.”
Lapnas, a sophomore from Pittstown, N.J., played brilliantly in his first career start, holding the Saints scoreless for more than 86 minutes. The 6-foot-4 keeper made six saves, coming up with crucial stops early. Siena looked like it had a goal about 20 minutes in but Lapnas made a kick save with his right foot to thwart the chance.
Mason scored its lone goal in the 40th minute. Henning Dirks played an excellent through ball up the middle to Daniel Hoffmann, who made a great run and got past the defense. With one touch he put the Patriots in front, finishing from just inside the box with his left foot over a sliding Siena goalkeeper Aleks Radosavljevic as the ball sailed into the far right corner.
That would be the only offense the Patriots would get though as that was just their second shot of the game at that point. They finished with eight shots and had only four on goal. Siena, on the other hand, had 17 shots, including eight on goal.
Mason will try to regroup and get ready for A-10 action. The Patriots open up conference play on the road next Saturday at VCU in Richmond, Va. The Rams (2-5-1) were picked to finish third in the A-10 preseason coaches poll but have also gotten off to a slow start this season.
“We just talked about the season as in two parts,” Andrulis said. “The first part is over. We can't change what happened. We have to learn from it. We have to work on getting better. Now we have to take care of business in the conference, starting at VCU next Saturday, which is a good rivalry game and a game we are looking forward to.”