William and Mary’s goal for the first few weeks of the 2010 season is simple. Head Coach Christine Halfpenny and her squad want to cement their status as national contenders by defeating several powerhouse programs over the course of a formidable non-conference schedule. On Saturday, the no. 20 Tribe took the first step, downing no. 16 Ohio State 15-14 in a captivating season opener at Busch Field.
With 4:33 remaining in the game, senior midfielder Mary Zulty slipped past the Buckeye defense and supplied the Tribe with the decisive, game winning score. The College withstood several Ohio State runs in the final minutes to preserve the one-point victory.
“I’m just extremely proud of our team today,” Halfpenny said. “A couple of things they really impressed me with was their discipline, their determination and their willingness to stick to the game plan. Our on-field leadership was outstanding; there was not one second during the game that our kids didn’t think that they weren’t going to win. They had the right mindset and the right attitude.”
After falling behind by three goals in the first half, the College persevered and rallied to cut Ohio State’s halftime lead to one. After the intermission, the Tribe scored five straight goals to open a three-goal advantage over the visiting Buckeyes.
Throughout the course of the match, the College displayed a balanced scoring attack, with six different players contributing on the offensive end.
“That’s been a part of the offense that we put in place,” Halfpenny said. “Over the last three years we have been working to develop a balanced attacking unit where we have two people that are hot one day, and three people that are hot the other day. We have seven legitimate scoring threats every time on the attack, and they go deep; they come off the bench and they are still scoring threats.”
Zulty was the Tribe’s leading scorer with four goals and junior midfielders Grace Golden and Molly Wannen added three goals each. Attackers Maggie Anderson and Krystin Mackrides scored two goals apiece, while junior attacker Ashley Holofcener scored one goal.
The squad also displayed a gritty determination on the defensive end in the latter stages of the game. The Buckeyes managed to knot the score at 14 on the strength of a Maghan Beaudrault goal with 5:35 remaining, but the combination of the Tribe’s tough defense coupled with Zulty’s clinching score proved too much for Ohio State to handle.
“It speaks volumes for our team’s discipline and our ability to take it one play at a time,” Halfpenny said. “It’s a long game, and if you get caught up in what just happened, you’re not going to be able to stay focused and organized.”
Despite the win, the Tribe is not yet content. Several other large non-conference challenges loom, beginning with a match against no. 5 Duke at home this Sunday.
“It gives us a ton of confidence,” Golden said. “We know we still have to work for each game and each game is a new game, but it is nice to start off on the winning foot. This week, we are going to work hard. We are going to prepare like we did today and we are going to go out as a team and play against Duke the same way we just did against Ohio State.”
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