Men's Soccer | 8/8/2018 3:29:00 PM
FAIRFAX, Va. – On Wednesday, the George Mason men's soccer team returned to the field for the first time since the spring.
It won't be long before they're back in action against opposing competition.
The Patriots opened preseason camp with their first practice on Wednesday morning. A mixture of 21 returners and 12 newcomers will have just four days together before their first game – an exhibition contest against Wright State at 7 p.m. on Saturday at George Mason Stadium. Admission will be free.
After moving in on Tuesday and meeting as a team, the squad hit the pitch for the first time Wednesday. The day started with a fitness test inside the George Mason Field House. The team then moved outside for an hour-long session on the practice field. After a brief warmup, the Patriots played two simultaneous 7v7 soccer games to allow the team to shake off the cobwebs. The Patriots will practice again on Wednesday night, on the game field at George Mason Stadium.
"It is always great to get started," said head coach Greg Andrulis
, who enters his 14th year at the helm. "They looked sharp today. We are obviously encouraged by what we saw. We did a little bit of a fitness assessment to start with and the guys did very well with that. Then the little games we played this morning were very competitive. We still have a long, long way to go, a lot to learn, a lot to teach. But we'll be competitive and we're excited about the group."
Mason returns 21 letterwinners and seven starters from last year. Junior midfielder Ryan Mingachos
leads the way as the team's top returning scorer as he logged a career-high six goals and three assists for 15 points in 2017.
The Patriots add 12 newcomers, including seven transfers and five freshmen. The group features forward Colin Brezniak
, who scored three goals and made nine starts at Pittsburgh last fall, and a pair of transfers from Virginia Tech in forward Gregor von Westphalen
and midfielder Daniel Damiani
. Mason also brings in defender Pablo Pertusa, who was a junior college All-American at Monroe College in New York last season.
"With our recruiting group coming in, we created a lot of competition," Andrulis said. "The culture of the guys who are back, competing for every ball, is still there. We expect a high level of energy in competition, especially on the first day. Everybody wants to show you what they have. That's great. We just need to continue that enthusiasm and high level of play."
The Patriots will play three exhibition games over the next 10 days. They'll begin by welcoming Horizon League foe Wright State, where Andrulis served as head coach for 12 years from 1985-96, on Saturday.
They'll play their final two exhibition games on the road – at UMBC and at William & Mary. The Patriots will play UMBC at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15 in Baltimore and then wrap up the exhibition schedule against the Tribe on Aug. 18 in Williamsburg, Va. William & Mary won the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship last year to advance to the NCAA Tournament where it lost to Columbia in double overtime in the first round.