While many college sports fans are familiar with the George Mason University Men’s Basketball team’s run to the Final Four in 2006, not as many know about the Mason Women’s Soccer team’s National Championship title of 21 years earlier. The author of this post recalls reading about this achievement in the student newspaper, then called Broadside, while an 18-year-old freshman at Mason back in 1985. With the A-10 Conference Championship Tournament beginning this Thursday, November 3, it is as good a time as any to take a look back at what happened 31 years ago this month.
In November of 1985, the George Mason University Women’s Soccer team captured the highest prize in collegiate athletics, the Division I National Championship. After a 15-2-1 season, the Patriots earned a spot in the NCAA tournament. The tournament began with a first-round thriller against William and Mary, where Mason scored two goals in the final 13 minutes to tie and send the match into overtime. Mason would eventually win in a penalty kick shootout after two overtime periods. Next, after a 1-0 win over Cortland State, Mason faced off against nationally number-one-ranked University of Massachusetts, who had gone into the tournament undefeated. Mason beat UMass 3-0, scoring more goals than had been scored against them during the entire season. All that remained for Mason was to defeat then 4-time National Champion, North Carolina. Carolina had beaten Mason 4-0 in an NCAA semifinal match in 1983.
Mason had drawn home field for the Final on November 24th. Before a partisan crowd of 4,500 and an ESPN television audience of millions, Mason scored first at 3o minutes on an 18-yarder from All-American Pam Bauman. The Patriots held the Tarheels scoreless for the rest of the game, while All-American Lisa Gmitter scored for Mason in the 86th minute to seal the 2-0 victory. The win, against a team that had a record of 99 wins and 4 losses during the previous 4 years, was indeed the first shot heard round the world for Mason athletics.
Let’s do it again, Patriots.