William and Mary’s season came to an abrupt end this weekend. After dropping its semifinal match to Northeastern 2-1 in overtime, the Tribe was excluded from the season ending, 48-team College Cup.
“I know how the [NCAA selection] process works,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “Unfortunately, there are many things out of our control, and a lot of those things hurt us this year. This was one of the most talented teams we have had here in a while, and we are good enough to be playing still, and we are not.”
The squad finished with a 13-5-1 (8-3-1 CAA) record and a 7-1-1 road mark. Senior forward Andrew Hoxie established himself as one of the premier forwards in the country, garnering the CAA’s Player of the Year honor. The Tribe boasted the most potent offense in the conference, averaging two goals per game, while the defense held opponents to one goal or less in 14 of 19 games; and yet, these numbers offer little consolation for the unanticipated end.
“There always has to be somebody that is close and does not get in, and we are that team,” Norris said. “[We are] more than capable of competing in the tournament.”
In what turned out to be its final match of the year against the Huskies Friday night, the Tribe conceded a 52nd-minute goal before junior midfielder Nat Baako broke through the Huskies suffocating defense to score in the 72nd minute.
Hoxie faced the defense outside of the box before splitting the back line with a soft pass to junior midfielder Ian Stowe. From the left side, Stowe sent a low ball to a streaking Baako, who finished behind Huskies keeper Scott Partridge for his third goal of the season.
“We responded well to their goal,” Baako said. “We kept our composure, even though we were down 1-0 in the semifinals, and we kept our belief that we were going to get the goal back, which we did.”
Baako nearly pushed the College ahead two minutes later when senior midfielder Price Thomas played a ball in from the left side of the pitch that eluded junior forward Alan Koger. Baako anticipated the chance and beat the defense to the serve, forcing Partridge to charge off his line and make a sprawling save.
With the Huskies holding a 15-13 edge in shots and a 9-5 advantage in corners, the squads headed into overtime.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, the Huskies extra session goal materialized in a similar manner to the opening score. Northeastern’s quick left back Santiago Bedoya skated down the left side before pivoting in the corner to send a powerful low ball across the box to Andre Ciliotta. Ciliotta, standing unmarked at the back post, tapped in the overtime tally to give the Huskies a 2-1 victory.
“The whole game was very back-and-forth,” Norris said. “I think it would not have been unfair for either team to have won the game on the night. [The University of North Carolina-Wilmington] ended up winning the tournament [1-0], but Northeastern might have been the best team that we played in the league this year.”
The season ends with the College amounting its highest win total since 2002 (15) but falling one step short of its ultimate goal of making it into the NCAA’s field of 48.