William and Mary’s commanding 2-0 halftime lead over James Madison seemed to assure the no. 25 Tribe (8-4, 3-2 CAA) its seventh win in eight matches. But three unanswered second half goals by the Dukes (7-2-2, 2-1-1 CAA) stunned the home crowd at Albert-Daly Field, as the College fell to a 3-2 defeat on a frigid Wednesday night.
Head Coach Chris Norris did not foresee the sudden collapse.
“I had hoped that it had been a lesson that we had already learned, and tonight it was tough,” Norris said. “We repeated some mistakes we had made at times this year, and it is disappointing. We had the game well in hand, and then basically they outworked us and scrambled and deserved to win.”
The Dukes held a 7-2 advantage in second half shots and netted goals in the 54th, 64th and 82nd minutes. James Madison’s physical approach was visible with 14 second half fouls and 3 yellow cards. The Dukes lead the CAA with 25 yellows this season.
“We did not match their intensity,” Norris said. “If that is the way a game runs, and there is a certain amount of physicality that is allowed to happen, then you have to adjust to what is going on, and we didn’t adjust to it well.”
Dukes forward Patrick Innes, a late first half substitution, led all scorers on the night, netting two goals and an assist.
Freshman forward Chris Perez and junior forward Alan Koger registered the Tribe’s goals.
Perez’s score was the first of his collegiate career and materialized off a counterattack down the left channel in the 16th minute. Perez possessed the ball in the channel and ripped a shot just inside the 18, which was blocked by Dukes keeper Ken Manahan. Koger followed up the rebound with a shot. Sophomore midfielder Nick Abrigo collected Koger’s blocked shot on the right side of the box and fired his own attempt on net that Manahan countered with a miraculous save. Luckily for Abrigo, the ball returned to his foot before he sent another attempt on net that was arching wide before Perez knocked the ball past Manahan with a diving header.
“I was just trying to stay around the goal and make sure if something did happen I was there,” Perez said. “It felt good [to get my first collegiate goal], but we lost the game, so it is tough to happy about it.”
Koger’s goal came in a more conventional way. Off of a high cross from junior defender Jeremy Harris, Koger used his head to direct the service into the left mesh for his fifth goal of the year in the 40th minute.
With a win over James Madison, the College would have risen to the top of the CAA standings. The loss cause the Tribe to slip to fifth.
However, more immediate problems concern Norris.
“We could have done a better job of competing harder, positioning ourselves better, not allowing decisions by anybody on the field to affect us as much as we did,” Norris said. “I think we did not stand up to the challenge.”
The College travels to Newark, Del. Saturday to face off against another physical squad in the Delaware Blue Hens. Delaware is 5-7 on the season and has lost two straight matches.