As the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold. Unfortunately for the College of William and Mary, revenge is going to have to get a little colder. The Tribe (0-1) fell in its opening contest of the 2009 campaign 1-0 at no. 3 Wake Forest University Tuesday night. The loss to the Demon Deacons (1-0) mirrors last season’s second round loss in the NCAA tournament, when the same score eliminated the College.
However, Wake Forest did not have to wait until overtime to notch the game winner this time. Senior forward Zack Schilawski netted a cross in the 74th minute to break the tie and hand the Tribe its first defeat of the year.
“I think we were a little bit too concerned about their individual ability to break us down … and did not quite do a good enough job of getting close to players and pressuring them,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “They really spread the field when they have the ball and we gave them the kind of room and time for their players to get their heads up and pick out longer swinging passes that isolated our outside backs.”
Wake’s persistence with the longer passes led to a 15-0 advantage in corner kicks on the night and an 18-10 edge in shots on goal, despite both teams only recording four shots on net apiece.
Schilawski’s goal came at the end of a one-two combo, which started in the midfield and left the College a step behind. The goal ended an intense opening 20 minutes of the second half, which saw action at both ends of the pitch in a back-and-forth manner.
“Obviously we wished we could have had the win,” junior midfielder Nat Baako said. “We learned some stuff we have to work on and hopefully we can get that right before our next game. Wake Forest is a team that will take advantage of your weakness, so it was a really good test for us.”
The College’s best chance to score came in the 28th minute off the right foot of speedy senior midfielder Price Thomas, who found himself alone at the top of the box before firing a ball to Demon Deacon goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald’s left. Fitzgerald made an acrobatic save, forcing the ball away from the net before a Wake defender cleared it.
Thomas’s opportunity forced the Demon Deacon’s to break up the two freshman center backs that started the contest and move their highly touted senior captain, Ike Opara, to the backline to reduce the Tribe’s counterattacks.
In the 77th minute, junior forward Alan Koger deflected a cross from the left side from senior forward Andrew Hoxie on net.
“Koger jumped a defender and put a header on frame, which unfortunately was at the keeper,” Norris said. “I think if it had been three feet to either side of him, it probably would have scored.”
The College moved three forwards upfront for the final 15 minutes, but the team was unable to net the equalizer.
The Tribe returns to the pitch Saturday, when they face Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C.