After 81 minutes of scoreless soccer, Nat Baako did the improbable. Three years after stepping on campus, the star junior center midfielder scored his first goal at Albert-Daly Field, a feat he had yet to accomplish. Baako’s first collegiate goal at home handed William and Mary (10-4-1, CAA 5-2-1) a 1-0 victory over Hofstra (7-6-1, CAA 5-2-1) Saturday night.
“I have been waiting for that for three years,” Baako said. “It felt great, especially in a game that we needed to win to make sure our season stayed on track. The ball went out to Price [Thomas], and I actually yelled at him to play it low. So when I saw him loop it over to [Hofstra’s goalkeeper], I was hoping he would drop it. Which he did, and I was like, ‘Alright, thank you!’”
Baako blasted the loose ball into the empty net for his first goal of the year in a game the College out-shot, out-possessed and out-chanced the then CAA-leading Pride. Thomas’ cross came from the end line and should have been easily secured by Pride keeper Greg Cumpstone.
For most of the match, the College was able to penetrate into the attacking third, but had not been able to capitalize on opportunities.
“I felt like if we were patient and we could break their pressure, that we would get some chances,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “But I always worried about them. They are a very good counter-attacking team, and they had some individuals that could make some plays; and if we didn’t get the first goal, it would be a struggle.”
An early goal nearly came in the 36th minute when junior forward Ryan Snyder had a golden opportunity to put the College ahead. Snyder headed a cross on goal that Cumpstone swatted right back to a waiting Snyder. He then directed a low ball toward the corner of the net, which appeared to cross the line before being cleared by a Hofstra defender. No goal was signaled in spite of momentary celebration by Tribe players surrounding the goal.
The College remained undaunted and continued to outwork the Pride, with 12 first half shots and relentless pressure throughout the night.
“We really picked it up and did the small things right tonight, and I think sometimes that has to be the difference,” senior left back Roger Bothe said. “Lately we have been struggling a bit, but it was nice to see our effort make the difference. We are a team that does like to play pretty, but sometimes you have to get those ugly wins, and tonight was one of them.”
Ugly or not, the win moves the Tribe into third place in the CAA with three games remaining in the regular season.
“As far as playing how we are supposed to, I don’t think it was our best game of the season,” Baako said. “I think we still have a lot of work to do. We needed to win this game no matter what. So in the end, we did what we had to do.”
The Tribe travels to Atlanta, Ga. Wednesday to take on Georgia State.