Moments of brilliance followed by heads-cratching blunders? Check. Prolonged stretches of apathy followed by furious attacks on goal? Of course. Doing just enough to keep hope alive? That too.
All the familiar themes of the Tribe’s season manifested themselves in William and Mary’s (9-7-2, 5-4-1 CAA) 3-2 victory over Virginia Commonwealth Saturday. The win tied the Tribe for fifth in the conference and leaves the squad on the cusp of making the CAA tournament.
“I thought we started very, very well,” Head Coach John Daly said. “I spoke to the Old Dominion coach about their game on Friday where VCU started very fast in that game, getting two early goals, and it ended up 2-1. It was kind of deja vu for us.”
The Tribe jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the game’s eighth minute on a header from sophomore midfielder Mallory Schaffer. Schaffer, who had an earlier goal disallowed on an offsides call, made a run down the center of the field where she received a ball from the left wing played into the box from sophomore midfielder Cortlyn Bristol.
Leaping into the air, Schaffer struck the ball high and to the left of the keeper for her eighth goal
of the season. A minute later, junior back Diana Weigel added to the lead with a goal from the top left corner of the box off an assist from freshman forward Audrey Barry. Weigel’s goal, her first of the season, put the Tribe on top 2-0.
“I was kind of surprised,” Weigel said. “Audrey had a great ball passed to me, and I just came
up with a little bit of luck needed to score.”
But the College would quickly let the Rams back in the game, giving up a goal in the 17th minute on a breakaway by VCU’s Azania. The goal sent the Rams into the halftime break knotted at 2-1.
“Our coach said 2-0 is the most dangerous lead to have, and I think he was right,” Weigel said. “We let up a little bit and it cost us. But luckily we were able to get it back.”
After a first half during which the Tribe struggled to keep possession in the attacking third, Daly inserted freshman forward Lauren Goff into the starting lineup. The freshman added energy to the College’s front line, helping the squad maintain possession.
Five minutes after entering the match, Goff was rewarded for her efforts with a goal on a ball flicked on to the right side from Barry. Goff pushed a shot past the keeper to the far post from 12 yards out and gave the Tribe a 3-1 lead.
“[Goff] is still very naive, but she works hard and she tries to play simply, so she ends up not making many mistakes,” Daly said. “She really persevered well in scoring the goal.”
The victory over VCU gives the College 16 points in conference, two points behind George Mason and UNC-Wilmington, which are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Tribe holds the tiebreaker over UNCW, but not George Mason.
“We are just hoping things fall right for us,” Daly said. “All we can do is go out and play hard, and
hope that is going to be enough to get us there. I definitely want a crack at whoever is in there.”