Nov. 21, 2008

Courtesy George Mason Athletics

FAIRFAX, Va. - Freshman midfielder Eber Martinez's goal in the 47th minute led George Mason (14-6-2) past Penn (11-3-4) by a final score of 1-0 in a First Round NCAA Division I Men's Soccer Championship match on Friday evening at George Mason Stadium. The win was George Mason's first in NCAA Tournament play since the 1996 season, when the Patriots defeated Virginia 1-0 in the first round.

With the win, Mason advances to the second round of the tournament. The Patriots will play the second-seeded Maryland Terrapins (18-3-0), the winners of the ACC Championship, on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 7 p.m. in College Park, Md.

After a scoreless first half, Mason went on the attack to begin the second half. Only 1:45 after the intermission, senior forward Kwame Adjeman-Pamboe found Eber Martinez open in the middle of the field. After gathering the pass from Adjeman-Pamboe, Eber Martinez launched a shot from 25 yards out that curved into the upper-left corner of the net for his second goal in the past three matches.

The Quakers had some opportunities to tie the score but were unable to come up with the equalizer despite taking six shots in the second half to the Patriots' two. In the final 15 minutes of action, Penn took four shots but two were stopped by Mason junior goalkeeper Sean Kelley, who made five saves in 90 minutes of action. His counterpart, Penn senior goalkeeper Drew Healy made two saves in the match.

Both goalkeepers were tested early in the match as both sides took a penalty kick within the first 33 minutes of play. In the 28th minute, Penn's leading scorer, senior forward Omid Shokoufandeh, tried to sneak a penalty kick into the right corner of the goal past Kelley. However, Kelley ranged to his right to come up with the diving stop to keep the Quakers off the scoreboard. Mason took a penalty kick of its own in the 33rd minute when sophomore forward Irvin Martinez got his chance. However, the play in goal was outstanding again as Healy knocked the shot away to deny Irvin Martinez.

The 14 wins is the most for the program since the 1996 season. Mason has ripped off eight consecutive victories, outscoring opponents 20-4 during that stretch on its way to a national ranking of 18th in the latest Soccer America poll. The Patriots' defense has also been stellar during the eight-match winning streak, recording six shutouts, for a total of 10 during the 2008 season.