FAIRFAX, Va. – Virginia Commonwealth University senior Jake Van Yahres (pictured, right) scored in the 83rd minute and the Rams held on to defeat Colonial Athletic Association rival George Mason, 1-0, Saturday evening at George Mason Stadium.
With the victory, VCU (5-1-3, 2-0-1 CAA) runs its league-leading unbeaten streak to eight games while posting its fifth shutout of the season. George Mason falls to 4-3-1, 0-1-1 in league action.
"I thought we had a little bit of anxiety today in the first half but we were able to right the ship at halftime," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "As we grow as a team and start to go into games not hoping to win, but rather expecting to win against good teams, our performance anxiety will decrease.
"Today I thought we did enough to not give away the game while we gained confidence and started to play well in spots. At the end of the day we had enough players make plays to keep a good George Mason team off the scoreboard and then did enough to create several good chances to score during a 25-30 minute period in the second half. I thought our backline and goalkeeper had one of their better performances today defensively and really helped to pull us through."
VCU held off an early George Mason attack as the Patriots jumped out to a 5-1 advantage in shots through the first 30 minutes of the match. Victor Freeman nearly put Mason on the board at the 10:59 mark but Rams goalkeeper Gabriel Rodriguez made a save.
The VCU defense continued to hold strong and blocked a shot by Taylor Morgan in the 40th minute and another from Ryan Gracia with two minutes to go in the first half.
George Mason keeper Sean Cote collected his first save of the game when Rams' senior C.J. Gehin-Scott had a look in the 51st minute. Rodriguez would come up with another stop from the foot of Freeman at the 53:38 mark before picking up his third save in the 65th minute.
After George Mason fired seven of the first nine shots to start the second half, VCU regained momentum with about 25 minutes to play. Senior Thomas Hupper, freshman Peter Lee and junior Nick Rich fired shots but Cote again came up with saves on each threat.
VCU continued to pressure and Van Yahres took a pass from freshman Jose Carlos Castillo and put the Rams on top 1-0 in the 83rd minute. From the left wing, Van Yahres drove to the middle of the box and fired a strike into the far post.
Rodriguez came up with two more saves during the final seven minutes and the Rams backline preserved the shutout, turning away five Patriot shots down the stretch.
George Mason outshot the Rams 13-10, while VCU the held a 2-1 margin in corners. Each squad was charged with six fouls.
VCU returns to Sports Backers Stadium for a pair of home matches next week. The Rams entertain CAA rival Old Dominion on Wed., Oct. 6 at 7 p.m., before facing Hofstra on Oct. 9.