National-Caliber Teams Prevalent on Patriot Soccer Schedules

Posted: July 7, 2003 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Thirteen teams that played in the 2002 NCAA Men’s and Women’s College Cup tournaments are represented on the 2003 schedules for the George Mason men’s and women’s soccer teams.

The George Mason men, coming off their first winning season in four years, will face nine teams that reached the Men’s College Cup last fall, while the Patriot women, who advanced to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Tournament championship game, will meet four teams that participated in the 2002 postseason.

Several South Atlantic Region foes return to the schedule after an absence of a few years for the Patriot men, who finished 8-7-4 overall and 3-4-2 in the CAA last season. Traditional local rivals George Washington University, American University, and Loyola College return to the schedule. They join national “Final Four” participant Maryland and the three CAA representatives–Virginia Commonwealth University, Old Dominion University and the College of William and Mary–on this year’s slate. The other Men’s College Cup team from last season on the schedule is 2001 NCAA champion University of North Carolina, and six of the nine come to George Mason Stadium among 11 home contests.

The Patriots will host the George Mason/Comfort Inn Soccer Classic for the 23rd consecutive year, entertaining Georgia Southern University and Appalachian State University, along with cohost James Madison University Sept. 5-7.

“We feel this is one of the most competitive schedules in the country,” says Patriot men’s head coach Fran O’Leary. “We’re excited about facing nine teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year. The strength of our nonconference schedule should have us well prepared for our CAA games.”

Defending CAA champion James Madison, traditional conference power William and Mary, and regional foes University of Maryland and Villanova University are the four Women’s College Cup participants on George Mason’s women’s schedule, with all but James Madison coming to George Mason Stadium. The Patriots, who were 10-11 overall and 7-2 in the CAA last year, split their two games with James Madison last year, defeating the Dukes on the road during the regular season before falling in the CAA Tournament championship game.

The Patriot women also will host an on-campus tournament, entertaining Boston University and North Carolina State along with cohost University of Delaware in the GMU Invitational Sept. 12-14, and they will travel to University of North Carolina at Greensboro to meet the Spartans and La Salle University in a tournament.

“It is always an exciting time to get ready for another season, and 2003 offers yet another challenge for our team,” says George Mason women’s head coach Jac Cicala. “Along with facing a very competitive schedule, we must integrate many new players into the lineup to replace our eight graduated seniors. We are all looking forward to another successful year and a return to the CAA playoffs.”

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