The No. 8 Tribe got back to winning Saturday night as it held on for a gritty 1-0 victory over Loyola at Martin Family Stadium. The College was carried by a stout defensive effort and another outstanding performance from senior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo.
The Tribe (2-1) began the season with a huge win at No. 5 Southern Methodist University, but disappointed on Thursday night in a 3-0 loss to St. John’s. Head coach Chris Norris was happy to see his team address its mistakes.
“We knew we had a poor performance the other night and we wanted to rectify that. Our first priority was to be a little more solid defensively,” Norris said. “To get a shutout after the St. John’s game was important, and to get a win on top of that was great.”
The Tribe notched what turned into the winning goal just eight minutes into the game. Sophomore forward John Ciampa drove down the right side of the field and fired a cross to Abrigo directly in front of the goal, who headed the ball into the bottom of the net.
“That’s the second time that [Ciampa has] been able to get a cross that I’ve been able to get on the end of,” Abrigo said. “It’s just about finding a free space in [front of the goal].”
The Tribe used effective ball movement to keep its advantage going into halftime. The Greyhounds didn’t manage a shot on goal for the remainder of the first period.
But Loyala’s will did not break, and the team garnered several opportunities in the second half. To the dismay of Loyola players and fans, the referee made a pair of controversial no-calls on handballs in front of the Tribe’s goal.
The most excitement came in the final 10 minutes of the match. Freshman Tribe forward Chris Perez, recovering from an injury, and drilled a shot from 20 feet off the right post, but Loyola was able to fend off an ensuing scramble in front of the net.
The ball was quickly sent back to the other end of the field, where William and Mary senior goalkeeper Colin Smolinsky made a diving stop on a shot en route to the upper left corner of the goal. With just 2:40 remaining, another Loyola shot missed just inches above the crossbar.
The Tribe finished with 16 shots, compared to the Greyhounds’ 11. Norris attributed Loyola’s late chances to player fatigue. His senior captain agreed.
“Our legs were a little tired,” Abrigo said. “We had a pretty tough preseason, and two games in [three days] will get you.”
The Tribe has a chance to get some rest before taking on Monmouth on Friday in the ODU Stihl Soccer Classic Tournament.
“We know that they’re going to be in for two more tough games,” Norris said. “Our schedule is pretty brutal and so we expect these games will be very much like our first three.”