Tommy Kramer headed in a long free kick in the 66th minute to give American University's soccer team a 1-0 upset of previously unbeaten and 10th-ranked George Mason yesterday at AU.
Kramer's goal was set up by a free kick by sophomore midfielder Richie Burke from 45 yards out on the left side. Burke lofted his kick into the middle of the penalty area, where Kramer, dashing in from the right side, met the ball and flicked it past the right post. A George Mason defender tried to kick away the ball, but a goal was ruled.
The defeat was a major setback for the Patriots (10-1-3), the top-ranked team in the Mid-Atlantic Region entering the game. George Mason needs victories against Virginia Commonwealth Saturday and William and Mary Tuesday to be sure of gaining one of two regional berths in the NCAA postseason playoffs.
"We'll just have to be resolute, determined from now on," said a quiet Dick Broad, the George Mason coach. "I thought we played well today, but in soccer you don't win every game if you play well."
Broad's assessment has been shared all season by AU Coach Pete Mehlert. Although his team has beaten George Mason and George Washington, the top two teams in the region, and tied the region's No. 3 team, William and Mary, American (4-6-5) has struggled much of the year, losing or tying games that the Eagles are convinced were determined by bad luck.
"We've played well all season long," Mehlert said, "but things haven't gone our way. Things have been decided by a few breaks -- we haven't gotten them and other teams have.
"The only team that has outplayed us is (11th-ranked) Duke. You just need things to go right for you.''