College of William and Mary Head Coach John Daly usually has a lot to say. He is never shy about making his opinions known to referees, assistant coaches or even his own players.
So what did he say to senior forward Claire Zimmeck during their postgame embrace Thursday night after she scored two goals and assisted on a third in the second half of the Tribe’s 3-2 victory over Old Dominion University?
“There were no words,” Zimmeck said, smiling.
Perhaps Daly was left speechless by Zimmeck’s second-half performance. Entering the second half down 1-0 due to a goal by ODU forward Victoria Johnson in the 23rd minute, it was Zimmeck and freshman Stephanie Gerow who picked the Tribe up and carried the team the CAA regular season title.
After a cross from sophomore midfielder Brittany Lane, Gerow found Zimmeck in the center box with a lone defender to beat in the 46th minute. Zimmeck cut quickly to her left and fired a left-footed shot low into the right corner to tie the score.
Then, following an ODU goal by defender Elizabeth Brewster, Zimmeck lofted a pass to Gerow from the left side of the end line in the 54th minute. Gerow slid to meet the ball at the back post and fired a right-footed one-timer into the back of the net for her third goal of the year.
In the 62nd minute, senior back Abby Lauer sent a cross from 26 yards out to freshman Diana Weigel on the left end line, who with one touch sent the ball into the box for Zimmeck. Zimmeck one-touched the ball with her right foot into the center of the net for her team-leading twelfth goal of the season and the eventual game-winner.
The College’s victory Thursday, coupled with James Madison University’s 2-1 loss to Virginia Commonwealth University in Harrisonburg, gave the Tribe the regular season CAA conference title. The College also clinched a bye into the semifinals of the CAA tournament and the right to host the tournament.
“It means a lot because the kids can have a couple of days rest first of all,” Daly said. “And then we’ll start gearing up. We won’t know until Tuesday night who we’re actually playing.”
Hosting the CAA tournament allows the Tribe’s decorated senior class one last opportunity to play at Albert-Daly field, an opportunity they are grateful for.
“It means a lot. It’s been a great four years and I don’t regret a thing” Zimmeck said.
The only regret may belong to Daly since he won’t get another year coaching Zimmeck.
“She’s been absolutely awesome. She’s one of the best in the country, and she’s tough,” Daly said. “She’s a great player.”