As the clock ticked just under a minute in overtime, it seemed certain that a second overtime period was on the way for William and Mary. Play had been concentrated near the College’s goal, and North Carolina-Wilmington had dominated possession.
But then, as rain poured down as if in celebration, a goal from junior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo won it, and the Tribe’s dream season continued.
A goal at the end of overtime by Abrigo was the key to the Tribe’s (12-2-1, 7-1-1 CAA) 1-0 win over the Seahawks on a rainy Wednesday. With the win, the Tribe clinched the regular-season CAA championship, as well as the top seed in the CAA tournament with home-field advantage.
Senior midfielder Jimmy Carroll sent a long ball through the air from the left side to Abrigo, who was nearly alone on the Seahawks’ side of the field with just two defenders and the goalkeeper. With one touch, Abrigo trapped the ball and made a move toward his left.
Abrigo drew the backs of the Seahawks defenders away from the goal, while also drawing out goalkeeper Brock Duckworth.
From there, it was nothing but net.
“I went up, and I just got a piece of it,” Abrigo said. “Once I beat that goalie and the defender, I was just making sure I got it in. It took all my concentration, and I was lucky to put it in.”
As Abrigo and his teammates celebrated madly on the field, it seemed hard to believe that, for much of regulation, the win seemed very much in doubt. Both squads traded scoring attempts throughout the first half, although the Tribe ended up with a 19-13 advantage in shots.
The Tribe’s best chance to score during regulation came from the efforts of two seniors, forward Alan Koger and midfielder Nathaniel Baako. Baako pickpocketed a UNCW defender and passed to Koger on the other side of the pitch. Koger fired a shot which sailed just past the right post.
Although the Tribe continued to get solid looks on goal, neither team could convert during the first part of regulation.
“I think there were two factors there,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “One, I thought that we came out very tentatively. In some ways we played a little bit not to lose, instead of being loose and doing what got us to this point. Second, Wilmington is a good team that’s very organized, with a lot of experience. They make it difficult to play.”
Frustration was evident in both teams by the end of the game, as the Tribe racked up 14 fouls compared to the Seahawks 12, while each team received two yellow cards.
In the end, the Tribe was able to break through its frustration to extend its unbeaten streak to nine games and send off a senior class that compiled a 44-23-8 record in its four years at the College with one final home win.
“It’s unbelievable,” Norris said. “One of the things I looked at when the schedule first came out was that the last two CAA games were on the road against Hofstra and Northeastern, which are two very difficult places to go and play. To have it locked up at this point with those two games to go is fantastic.”