George Mason Women’s Soccer Wins the 1985 National Championship
Fans of George Mason University athletics recall the Men’s Basketball team’s road to the NCAA Final Four in 2006 as a seismic event in Mason’s athletic history. But this was not the first major accomplishment by a George Mason University team. Twenty-one years earlier the George Mason University Women’s Soccer team became National Champion by winning the 1985 NCAA Division One Tournament.
Mason’s road to the title began three years earlier with the birth of the program. In 1982 Mason Athletics added Women’s Soccer to its existing varsity sports. Men’s Soccer at Mason had been around since the late 1960s and by the early 1980s, had built up a respectable record. Athletic Director Jack Kvancz hired Hank Leung, a thirty-three-year-old graduate of Drexel University to begin and direct a women’s program at Mason. During that initial season, the Patriots compiled a 14-4-1 record and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, only to lose in the first round to Princeton. The Mason women would earn a spot in the Tournament in each of its first four years, winning a total of 63 matches while only losing 14 and tying 7 during that period.
The Patriots ended the 1985 season at 14-2-1 and ranked Number 3 in the nation, earning them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. In the first match Mason defeated William and Mary in a penalty kick shootout after double overtime. Their next opponents were the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons. Mason defeated Cortland 1-0 in regulation to set up the next match against the undefeated Number 1-ranked University of Massachusetts. After a 0-0 tie at halftime, the Patriots scored 3 second-half goals to defeat the top-seeded Minutewomen 3-0 and set up a final with North Carolina.
The final match, pitting Mason and the Tarheels, was played on the George Mason University Campus at Fairfax on November 24th. Before a partisan crowd of 4,500 and an ESPN television audience of millions, Mason scored first at 30 minutes on an 18-yarder from All-American Pam Bauman. The Patriots held the Tarheels scoreless for the rest of the game, while All-American Lisa Gmitter scored for Mason in the 86th minute to seal the 2-0 victory. The win, against a team that had a record of 99 wins and 4 losses during the previous 4 years, was indeed the first shot heard round the world for Mason athletics.