William and Mary notched a 2-0 victory over UNC-Greensboro Tuesday night, capitalizing on a defensive mishap by the Spartans and playing strong defense of its own for the Tribe’s second win in a row.
“We didn’t have a particularly good start,” head coach Chris Norris said. “Fortunately, we weathered it a little bit.”
Senior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo provided what would prove to be the game-winner for the Tribe (4-3, 1-0 CAA) in the 38th minute. Sophomore defender Will Smith sent a long pass that caught the Greensboro defenders too far forward. Abrigo moved on a well-timed run to beat the last defender to the ball, broke away from the back line and easily put the ball in the net for his team-leading fourth goal of the season to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
“I just made sure I hedged in front of that defender, and once I was one-on-one with that goalie, I just had to put it in the corner,” Abrigo said.
Norris said those plays highlight the shift he wants the team to make, from being very possession-oriented to taking more chances.
“We were under some pressure at that point,” he said. “I didn’t feel real good about the way we were playing. And yet we scored a goal from basically a nothing situation.”
The Tribe kept the pressure on, and after the Spartan defenders couldn’t clear the ball on a Tribe attack in the 57th minute, freshman forward Patrick O’Brien played a ball into the center of the box. After another failure to clear by the Spartans, junior midfielder Ben Anderson gained control of the ball and tapped it past the UNC-Greensboro goalkeeper, giving the College a 2-0 stranglehold on the match.
“[A second goal] really puts a psychological dent in the other team’s hopes,” Norris said. “It basically gave us that breathing room and that confidence.”
Norris said he was happy with the changes he had made in the Tribe’s formations, specifically mentioning the advances of O’Brien and sophomore midfielder Chris Perez.
“All these guys are hopefully going to make our decisions tougher in terms of starting lineups and substitution choices,” Norris said.
The Tribe led Greensboro in shots (13 to 10) and shots on goal (six to three), and senior goalkeeper Colin Smolinsky notched his second consecutive shutout.
“That’s the first game that we’ve had a two-goal win margin,” Abrigo said. “It definitely gave us more confidence, and as long as we can keep holding the opposing team to zero goals, we’ll be fine.”
The win marks the end of the Tribe’s non-conference schedule. Starting Saturday, the College will hit the road for a three-game stretch, taking on Drexel, Towson and Georgia State before heading home to take on George Mason.