The University of Rhode Island men’s soccer team defeated No. 22 George Mason on Friday night, 3-1, and Dayton in overtime on Sunday afternoon, 1-0, to remain unbeaten in their last nine games.
Rhode Island has won four consecutive games and sit at 4-0 in the conference with an 8-3-3 overall posting. Â The Rams sit atop the A-10 as the only team undefeated within the conference.
George Mason got on the board first in Friday’s game with a goal at 16:38 from Colton Amidon. Â Rhode Island’s first goal came from last week’s Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week Dante Lamb off a rebound from Mike Casey just before halftime tie the game.
The Rams were able to take the lead when Ryan Oakley redirected a corner kick to Matt Sykes, who then found Carlo Davids for the goal at 55:57. Â Rhode Island scored its final goal when Daniel Murphy made it 3-1 at 70:47 with an assist from Lamb. Â Their defeat of the Patriots was URI’s first victory against a ranked opponent since 2003.
“We haven’t beaten a ranked opponent in quite some time,” Rhode Island head coach Gareth Elliott said. “So to be able to beat George Mason 3-1, it was a really good win for the program, but just like the win against George Washington and the win against Fordham, it’s just three points,”
On Sunday, the Rams were involved in a defensive battle against the Dayton Flyers, who had gone unbeaten in their previous five games. Â Goalkeeper Nils Leifhelm had four saves to earn his sixth shutout of the season and forced the Flyers into overtime. Â Wesley Matthews scored the game-winning goal three minutes into the extra period off an assist from Matt Sykes.
“I was just lucky to be in the right position at the right time,” Matthews said. “It was tough today because we came off a big win from George Mason. Â We were tired from Friday, but overall the guys did well to grind out.”
Leifhelm was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for the third time this season, becoming the first Rhode Island men’s soccer player to receive the honor as many times. Â Sykes was named one of GoRhody.com’s Student-Athletes of the Week.
Prior to the game, the team held a short ceremony to honor former head coach Geza Henni, who coached the Rams from 1969 to 1989 and passed away in April. Â Henni posted a 175-125-47 record and led URI to four NCAA Tournament appearances. He was also named the New England Conference Coach of the Year in 1979.
The Rams now have four games remaining in the regular season. Â Their next game is at home, then the team will play its final three games on the road. Â As the regular season nears its end, Rhode Island is focusing on continuing to improve as the playoffs approach.
“I like where we’re at but we’re always looking for better,” Elliott said. “Obviously you can’t get better than a win but you can get better performances collectively as a team and individually as well so it’s just trying to keep a good attitude in practice and a good mentality of working hard. Â Once we keep that up. We’ll have the best opportunities to win games.”
The Rams will be back in action Friday night as they face the University of Massachusetts in their final home game of the year. The Minutemen reside at the bottom of the A-10 standings with a 1-11-1 overall record and 0-3-1 conference posting.