Nicolas Abrigo is no magician, but he sure likes hat tricks. The junior midfielder added one goal in Friday night’s CAA semifinals win before cementing his CAA dominance with three goals in Sunday’s 4-0 CAA Finals demolition of third-seeded Hofstra (8-7-5). In a physically punishing affair, No. 9 William and Mary (15-3-2) lived up to its conference top-seed to celebrate its first CAA Tournament championship in a decade at Albert-Daly Field.
“We have been working for this for the whole year [so], to finally accomplish it was amazing,” Abrigo said. “We didn’t have the greatest start, but once we started to get the goals in, we were rolling.”
Abrigo opened the scoring of a tightly contested game in the 67th minute after wrapping a free kick over Hofstra’s five-man wall and past helpless Pride goalie Roberto Pellegrini. The set piece was set up after a Pride defender was caught out of position and forced to tackle senior forward Jimmy Carroll from behind just outside the 18-yard box.
The goal sparked a string of four Tribe scores in 20 minutes.
“[Hofstra has] really come a long way since the beginning of the season, and I thought they had a very good plan for playing against us,” head coach Chris Norris said. “But in the end, we were patient enough and made our chances count in the second half and that was definitely down to being more relaxed and being much sharper [than in Friday’s game].”
Abrigo registered his fifth, sixth and seventh goals of the season and senior forward Alan Koger added his 10th. Despite the impressive barrage, the physicality of the play dominated the match; 25 fouls — including four yellow cards and one red card — were committed.
“I didn’t think it was a dirty game or anything like that,” Norris said. “It was a well-contested game, and I thought we did a good job to keep our composure under those circumstances and continue to play hard but find the right balance.”
The Pride’s Stephan Barea was issued the red card in the 72nd minute after aggressively sliding into Abrigo before continuing to struggle with him on the ground. Barea’s antics were not tolerated and security escorted him, and his team’s postseason aspirations, from the stadium.
“It was obviously really physical,” Abrigo said. “I know a couple of us have knocks and will be treated after the game, but I’ll take that every day if we keep winning. [Barea] came in pretty harshly on the tackle. He got close to the ball but went right over and got my leg.”
With the College holding a 1-0 lead, Barea’s card proved counterproductive for Hofstra. The College utilized the open pitch to spread the field and melt the clock while tacking on three additional scores.
“For me and a couple of guys, it has been a five-year process to get to this point, and this validates everything we have done, every off season workout, every 6:30 a.m. running session, anything we have done — it is unbelievable to get to this point,” senior goalkeeper Andrew McAdams said.
McAdams led a stalwart backline that shut out both of its CAA championship opponents. Overall McAdams has posted four shutouts in his last six games, and is playing the best soccer of his Tribe career.
Abrigo left the CAA tournament with MVP honors, as well as being named to both the Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News National Teams of the Week.
The College enters the 48-team NCAA tournament as the 12th seed, giving itself the right to host the winner of the Princeton vs. Maryland-Baltimore County match. The College is 9-0-1 at home on the season, and will host the winner Sunday at 2 p.m. in Williamsburg.