George Mason's Michael Minshew appeared to score with 2:38 remaining, but the goal was disallowed and the Patriots wound up losing to defending NCAA champion Indiana, 2-1, yesterday before 4,500 at West Campus Field in Fairfax.
Minshew, a freshman who was inserted into the game with five minutes to play, collected a right-side cross from Marc LeMair and jammed the ball into the net from 10 feet. But linesman John DeFreitas ruled that Minshew was offside, and referee Guy Fraiture disallowed the goal.
"There was no way I was offside," said Minshew, a high-school all-America from Atlanta. "There were at least three (Indiana) guys in front of me. I know the goal was good."
George Mason Coach Dick Broad rushed onto the field and protested the call vehemently, but Fraiture upheld his linesman's call.
"The referees blew this game and there's no excuse for that," said Broad, whose team was ranked 10th in the nation in preseason polls. "Indiana had everybody packed into the goal, so how could Michael have been offside? It's a shame a great game like this was decided by the officials."
Minshew's near-score ended a furious rally by George Mason (1-1), which dominated play over the final 20 minutes. The Patriots had nine shots in that span, and repeatedly tested goalkeeper Chris Oswald.
"In the last quarter of the game, we were under tremendous pressure," said Hoosier Coach Jerry Yeagley, whose team evened its record at 1-1. "The crowd, the emotion . . . everything was working against us. We just ran out of gas and couldn't keep up the pace."
Top-ranked Indiana carried play through most of the game, building a 2-0 lead on goals by Joe Schmid at 34:52 and Pat McGauley at 52:15.
The Patriots, who came out timidly but gained aggressiveness as the game progressed, pulled to within 2-1 at 85:18 when LeMair chipped a cross from the right side into the box, where forward Mike Jung outleaped two defenders and headed the ball into the net.