90 minutes were not enough — neither were 100. But in the 110th and final minute of double over, junior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo capitalized on a counterattack and buried the game-winner off the far post to give William and Mary the 1-0 win Friday night in the semifinal round of the CAA Championships. Abrigo’s tally came with 24 precious seconds remaining in the second overtime against a Delaware Blue Hen squad that had not allowed a goal in its last 300 minutes of play.
“At that point in the game, in all likelihood, it was going to be a mistake or a counterattack like that that won the game,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “They looked dangerous against us on the counter and we just happened to put together a good counter against them and [Abrigo] did a good job of getting the ball on the frame.”
The win puts the Tribe in the conference finals Sunday for the first time since 2002.
Despite getting the result, the College did not play at its best at Albert-Daly Field Friday. For much of the match, the Blue Hens controlled the flow of play, despite being out shot 17 to 13 by the Tribe.
“There are times, and of course in the postseason we would like to have a good performance, but if you are going to be a good team and if you are going to advance far in postseason play, you have to win ugly at times,” Norris said.
Abrigo’s goal was his second overtime game-winner of the season, materializing in much the same way as his first against UNCW. Senior forward Ryan Snyder played a long airborne pass to a streaking Abrigo who caught up with the through-ball at the top of the 18-yard box. Blue Hen goalie Brandon Paul was indecisive, allowing Abrigo to get the first touch and wrap the ball around a diving Paul.
“We had been pushing for a goal for a little while and once [Snyder] got the ball I just started booking it,” Abrigo said. “It was not a set play, it just happened in the moment.”
The game got of to a cautious start with neither squad wanting to over commit to its runs. Outside of a 25-yard Abrigo strike with 13:16 remaining in the first half, neither team got close to scoring the elusive opening goal. The ball dipped on Paul and skirted underneath the sprawling goalie before ricocheting off the post.
The first half ended with both teams posting six shots with the Tribe having the edge in shots on goal with a five to two margin.
“No one was particularly sharp tonight,” senior back Michael DiNuzzo said. “It seemed pretty contagious today; there wasn’t one player you could say played a great game. It might have been nerves, maybe we were just too excited, but I think we are going to settle down for Sunday and we are going to have to.”
The win sends the College to the CAA finals Sunday afternoon against third-seeded Hofstra. The Pride won its semifinal match-up against Virginia Commonwealth after a penalty kick goal with five seconds remaining. All matches are held at Albert-Daly Field in Williamsburg.