William and Mary withstood six shots on goal from UNC-Wilmington and managed to hold on to a 1-0 lead Saturday night to snap a two-game losing streak and win its conference opener in their first CAA game of the season.
“That was a good start for us, knowing how difficult every conference game is,” head coach Chris Norris said. “Fortunately for us, we were the recipient of some big plays.”
Sophomore midfielder John Ciampa scored his first goal of the season early in the second half when junior midfielder Ben Anderson headed a pass back to Ciampa, who struck a volley past the goalkeeper for what would prove to be the game-winning goal.
“More than anything, it was quality service from [freshman midfielder] Josh West,” Norris said. “In this situation, we had a number of guys who recycled their runs. John was in a good spot and he finished it well.”
Before taking the lead, the Tribe limited UNC-W to just one shot on goal, but the Seahawks came back with a flurry late in the second half. The Seahawks nearly equalized in the 74th minute, but had an apparent goal called back due to a handball. On a run that began in the 78th minute, Wilmington garnered three corner kicks — they had seven in the second half alone — and forced senior goalkeeper Colin Smolinsky to make four saves.Smolinsky withstood the run for his second shutout of the season.
“Wilmington is a team that thrives on set pieces,” Norris said. “We just tried to stay composed and not panic and stick to our individual responsibilities.”
The Tribe was fortunate not to be down earlier, when a well-placed free kick, the Seahawks’ only offensive threat in the first half, looked headed for goal. Smolinsky had to dive to knock the ball away.
“We were fortunate that Colin made some great saves when we needed them,” Norris said. “It was great for us to get back on what hopefully becomes a shutout trail.”
The Tribe didn’t put any additional offensive pressure on the Seahawks following their goal. Wilmington outperformed the College in shots (11 to nine) and shots on goal (six to three). Norris acknowledged there are areas his team needs to work on, but said he was satisfied with the victory and the team’s performance.
“More than anything else, it’s just part of the process. Hopefully we can learn those lessons quickly and eradicate those mistakes early in the season,” he said. “We think we’re making strides. We’re becoming more and more dangerous every game.”