Penn 2, George Mason 1 (OT) Box Score
PHILADELPHIA - Most of the news surrounding Penn's match with George Mason centered around the game being a rematch of the 2008 NCAA Tournament where GMU eliminated Penn, 1-0. After a thrilling 2-1 win by the Quakers in overtime, perhaps the news cycle will shift more towards Penn's veteran leaders picking the Red and Blue up when things looked bleak.
Senior Zach Barnett had assists on both of Penn's goals, initiating the scoring plays with his patented throw-ins. Each of his throws was directed to the eventual scorer by an upperclassman - the first by Christian Barreiro and the second by Tobi Olopade. The game-winner came off the head of Thomas Brandt, who moved up from his defensive position on the restart.
All of that offense resulted in a win thanks to the defensive effort put forth by seniors Ben Berg and Steven Schlaefer. In goal, Berg was called upon continuously in a second half that saw George Mason take 12 shots to Penn's one. Berg made all six of his saves in the second half, despite allowing a goal in the 63rd minute. In front of him, Schlaefer was all over the place at center back, clearing out cross after cross and giving Berg as much room as possible to make saves.
Penn jumped out to an early lead of freshman Stephen Baker's fourth goal of the season just 4:36 into the game. The play began with a Barnett throw which was tipped to Baker by Barreiro. Just as he did last week against Saint Joseph's, Baker found the ball in mid-air, kicking it waist-high past Sean Cote to give Penn the lead.
Cote would go on to make five saves in the half, but was lifted at the start of the second half in favor of Dustin Butcher.
The keeper switch was not important in the next 45 minutes as Penn managed just one shot and it didn't reach goal. Instead, the Quakers were required to play 45 minutes of defense as the Patriots sent a dozen shots toward the Quaker goal. While Berg saved six of them, Derek Manheim found the back of the net in the 63rd minute off a Taylor Morgan pass. Manheim received the pass, found space down the left side and beat Berg short-side to tie the game. After Mason tied the game, Berg made three of his saves, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra session, the first shot was the last. After Penn worked the ball down deep in George Mason territory and drew a throw, Barnett lined up. His long toss was first headed by Olopade, who was in his first game of the season after battling injury. That direction found the head of Brandt who dove and directed it past Butcher for his second career goal - one that sent the Red and Blue charging off the bench and into the far corner. All in all, the play went exactly as head coach Rudy Fuller probably imagined it would when he named the three participants the three participants were named captain before the season.
The Quakers are now 3-0-0 in 2010 while George Mason falls to 2-1-0. Penn returns to the field on Sunday against Lafayette to complete the Penn Soccer Classic. Lafayette drew with Villanova, 1-1, on the Main Line tonight, putting the Quakers in the driver's seat to defend its Penn Soccer Classic crown.
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