Mason men’s soccer team defeated the University of Wisconsin 2-1 in its first home game of the season.
After a scoreless first half at the George Mason Stadium, Mason (3-0) came out motivated and took the lead shortly after the break through freshman Henning Dirks. In-form senior Timi Mulgrew doubled the Patriots’ lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game with his fifth goal of the season, while Mark Segbers gave the Badgers (1-2) a consolation goal in the 89th minute.
The two teams came out in the first half evenly matched, with neither being able to assert dominance over their opponent. The first clear opportunity was created by the visitors after 14 minutes when Tom Barlow sent a cross from the left that Segbers met with a diving header, but his shot did not trouble Mason’s sophomore goalkeeper Steffen Kraus.
An even better opportunity for Wisconsin came on a free kick in the 20th minute. Christopher Mueller called for the best of Kraus with a curling shot over the wall from 20 yards out, but the goalkeeper stretched fully to tip the ball away and keep the score level.
Mason’s best opportunity in the first half came shortly before the half-hour mark. After some creative play by sophomore Daniel Hoffman and Dirks on the left side, Dirks freed himself from a defender in the box and sent a strong shot on goal, but placed it right at Wisconsin’s goalkeeper Adrian Remeniuk, who parried away.
A long throw-in by junior defender Brice Colcombe in the 37th minute caused a scramble in the visitors’ penalty area. It was Mason’s Zach Herstek who had the final touch on the ball, but his shot from 12 yards out ended up above Remeniuk’s goal.
The opening goal came in the 48th minute. A Wisconsin defender mistreated an attempted pass back to the goalkeeper and allowed Dirks to steal the ball. He put a shot on goal from a tight angle and beat Remeniuk.
In the 64th minute sophomore Matt Tucker was brought in the game as a substitute for the Patriots and made an immediate impact by getting a header off another long Colcombe throw. This time the goalkeeper was on his toes, however, and held comfortably.
Shortly after, Hoffman took on three Badger defenders in their penalty area and eventually returned the ball to Jannick Eckenrode, who forced a diving save by Remeniuk with a low shot from 30 yards out.
In the following minutes, Wisconsin managed to assert some dominance in their rush to find an equalizer and tried to find good opportunities near Mason’s goal. Arguably the best one came in the 76th minute, when Mason allowed an opponent to make a run into the box from the right and get a low cross across the goal. Segbers was again the target man and managed to get a shot away, but incredible reflexes from Kraus neutralized the close-range attempt. The German-born goalkeeper was called upon again several moments later when he had to save a shot from a yet another dangerous run through the right side of Mason’s backline.
Seconds after the save, the Patriots made the Badgers pay for their close misses. Kraus sent a long ball upfield that freed Mulgrew behind Wisconsin’s defense. Using the ball’s big bounce to his advantage, Mulgrew headed the ball above the onrushing Remeniuk.
After the goal, things on the field settled down, but the Badgers’ goal managed to bring the intensity in the closing seconds. In the 89th minute Segbers was given a one-on-one opportunity against Kraus and calmly placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the Patriots’ goal. The goal was followed by protests toward the officials on the part of Mason players, coaches, and fans, because the goal resulted from an attack that left two Mason players lying on the ground in Wisconsin’s half.
After winning the Kuykenstrong D.C. College Cup at American University last weekend, the Patriots will look to grab a second trophy of the season next weekend when they host the Capital Cup. They will face the University of Wisconsin-Milwakee on Friday and Hartwick College on Sunday.
Correction: a previous version of this article stated that Wisconsin was ranked #21 in the nation at the time of this game. Due to a previous loss, they were unranked when facing Mason. The article has been updated to reflect this.