Freshman attacker Taelor Salmon considered No. 15 William and Mary’s (6-5, 1-1 CAA) overtime loss to No. 9 James Madison (9-2, 3-0 CAA) to be the first round between the conference’s two lacrosse heavyweights.
The 11-9 setback left Salmon and her teammates hungry for round two revenge.
“We are going to have a chip on our shoulder when we see them, and we’re going to take it to them hard because we want it just as much — we want it more than they do,” Salmon said. “It’s going to be a dogfight.”
The Tribe battled one of the conference’s stingiest defenses in a bruising affair at Albert-Daly Field Sunday. Despite holding three two-goal leads over the Dukes, the visitors rallied late before tallying the only two overtime scores to take a hard-fought victory back to Harrisonburg.
Salmon was the Tribe’s star offensively, slicing through the Dukes’s defense with a team-high two goals and one assist. However, consistent runs by the College’s attackers faltered late as the Tribe was unable to score in the final 14 minutes, 50 seconds of game action.
“At the end of the day, a little bit of execution [made the difference],” head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “On the offensive end, at the very end of the game — unfortunately — we got our looks and the shots just didn’t quite fall.”
After the College’s 8-6 lead evaporated in the final 20 minutes of the contest, freshman attacker Jenna Dougherty broke an 8-8 tie with her second goal of the year. But the Dukes answered with an equalizer two minutes later as Ariel Lane rocketed one of her three goals over senior goalkeeper Emily Geary’s right shoulder with 6:51 left in the second half. James Madison maintained strong possession over the final three minutes of the half, earning a free position shot with 11.8 seconds left. Geary did not back down and recorded her biggest save of the day, giving the Tribe momentum heading into overtime.
“We were motivated and organized [heading into overtime],” Halfpenny said. “Maybe we didn’t get a call or two down the stretch, but [at] the end of the day you don’t want to rely on calls.”
The Tribe played a strong opening 10 minutes of the game, racing to a 3-1 advantage. The Dukes responded quickly, burying two goals in 20 seconds to even the score. The College regained its lead after senior attacker Ashley Holofcener netted her 17th goal of the season. With a defender draped on her back, Salmon notched her first goal of the game with 10:24 remaining in the opening half after fielding a pass from Holofcener and scorching a blast past the Dukes goalie to put the College ahead 5-3.
But James Madison stormed back and recorded the final three goals of the half in a five-minute span to take a 6-5 lead into the break.
“I was very pleased with our overall performance,” Halfpenny said. “Top to bottom, our kids came to play. We were very prepared for the style; we were very prepared to play our game. At the end of the day, they had those final two draws, and that’s where they were able to fight and capitalize on the offensive end, and that was the difference maker.”
The College continues its three-game homestand Friday when it welcomes Hofstra to Williamsburg for another important conference-matchup.