William and Mary scored early, added one for insurance and hung on through waves of offensive attacks from Drexel for a 2-0 win Saturday, notching its third consecutive shutout and remaining unbeaten in CAA play.
“We battled, we competed well, but we weren’t that sharp in possession,” head coach Chris Norris said. “It wasn’t our best performance of the season.”
Drexel started the game off with an offensive flurry, forcing senior goalkeeper Colin Smolinsky to make two early saves. But it was the Tribe that drew first blood. In the ninth minute, senior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo sent a free kick towards the box, past the heads of the defenders but out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Freshman defender Michael Teiman headed the ball past the keeper to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
“It was a great serve in a perfect spot,” Norris said. “Michael has had a knack for finding a spot in set pieces, and he was able to finish that one well.”
The goal was the first for the Tribe (5-3, 2-0 CAA) directly off a set piece. Norris said the team was “getting dangerous” on set pieces and that the team practices them regularly.
“We felt like we were close to having one of those moments where we score on a situation like that,” Norris said. “We just needed a little bit better execution, and that’s what we got.”
The Dragons put together a couple more attacks in the first half, but none posed serious challenges to Smolinsky. The Tribe wasn’t able to put together another serious offensive threat until the 56th minute, when it again got the best of the Drexel defense. Abrigo received a pass in space, and took a shot that rebounded off the goalkeeper. Abrigo collected the ball and buried it in the net for his team-leading fifth goal of the season.
“Nick timed his run behind the defense well,” Norris said. “It was a great serve by Colin, a great play on by [freshman forward] Patrick O’Brien and Nick did the rest.”
The Dragons took more chances for the rest of the second half, but none troubled Smolinsky and the defense. Drexel outshot the College 19-11, but the Tribe ended up winning the shots on goal battle seven to five. Norris called Drexel’s second-half efforts as “half-chances.”
“Despite the fact that they had a number of chances, I didn’t feel they had a number of really dangerous situations,” Norris said.
Norris said the team’s rhythm wasn’t quite right, though, attributing some of that to the game’s late afternoon start time and the artificial turf at Drexel’s Vidas Field.
“I think when we get into some more familiar circumstances, that will be a little bit easier for us,” he said.
Even though Drexel remains winless, he said the game couldn’t be “easy and comfortable” because of the familiarity the CAA teams have with each other. The win put the Tribe in first place in the conference.
“When you get into conference play, anything can happen,” Norris said. “The teams know each other pretty well.”