Sept. 5, 2004
Baltimore, Md. - Sophomore Omar Alfonso scored the game-winning goal only 20 seconds into overtime, lifting Loyola over George Mason on Sunday afternoon at Alumnae Field. The Greyhounds, which never trailed in the game, won 3-2 and run their overtime unbeaten streak to 24 games."This was a big win for our program and our conference," says Loyola Head Coach Mark Mettrick. "George Mason is a very good team in the Colonial Athletic Conference. They are a veteran side and our guys did a good job with them today."Alfonso, last season's leading scorer, had his first good scoring opportunity of 2004 when he took a direct kick from about 20 yards out. From the left side of the cage, he drilled the kick into the upper right corner of the net, giving the `Hounds a 1-0 lead at 5:46."Putting the ball in the net gives you confidence," says Alfonso. "I don't want to live in the shadows of what I did last season, but I have an added responsibility to score with the success I've had."The Greyhounds nearly doubled their lead with John Dalziel taking a couple of good shots in the 21st minute. George Mason responded with an attack in the 29th minute, and after Loyola goalkeeper Greg Peters batted a ball out of harms way, Damien Quinn lofted a shot over Peters' head as he tried to retreat, and the score was tied at 1-1.Alfonso, in almost the exact same spot as his first direct kick, was given another opportunity to put points on the board for Loyola after a George Mason foul in the 33rd minute. This time, Alfonso curved his shot over the Patriots' wall, but a diving John O'Hare came up with the save to keep the score tied.Junior Vinnie Piscopo, however, would break that tie at 41:11 with his first goal of the season. Piscopo, who entered the game in the 40th minute, wasted no time in taking a feed from freshman Frank Spanos and beating O'Hare with a low shot in front of the cage."First touch of the game and I get a goal," says Piscopo. "What can be better than that?"With a one-goal lead, Loyola continued to attack and entered the second half with George Mason back on its heels. Alfonso had a pair of shots blocked in the 52nd minute and Spanos just missed with a shot that sailed wide in the 64th minute.The Patriots would settle themselves and went on the attack in the closing stages of the second half. After senior Jay Joyce ripped a shot that was saved by O'Hara in the 86th minute, Matt Mendy tied the game at 2-2 with his shot at 87:19.Loyola's impressive overtime streak would be put the test, but a give-and-go between Alfonso and senior Kevin Nash, who had two overtime winners last season, would quickly run the streak to 24."I saw the ball in the air and it was going towards Kevin Nash," says Alfonso. "I had the better position so I told him to leave it. He was making a run, I gave it to him, he gave it back between two defenders. I took it one time and scored the ball."The win improves Loyola to 1-1 while George Mason falls to 1-1 this season. The Greyhounds are now 14-0-7 under head coach Mark Mettrick in overtime games and are 15-0-9 in overtime since 1998.The `Hounds will play in George Mason's tournament next weekend, facing Robert Morris on Friday and 2003 Final Four participant Santa Clara on Sunday.