Women’s soccer: Schaffer brilliant again as College drops Mason, 3-1


William and Mary cruised to a 3-1 victory over CAA rival George Mason Sunday behind two goals from junior midfielder Mallory Schaffer. The Tribe (7-1-2, 2-0 CAA) dominated the contest from start to finish, outshooting GMU 16 to five on the way to its third win in a row.

After scoring two goals in a 5-0 win versus Towson Friday, Schaffer ran her total to a team-leading eight on the season. The Pennsylvania native first found the net in the 32nd minute, after fellow junior Erin Liberatore dribbled around a Mason defender and found the midfielder in the box. A composed Schaffer did the rest, calmly pulling the ball back with her right foot to avoid the defender before beating the keeper near-post.

The standout junior’s second goal would come in the 46th minute and was of highlight-reel quality. Schaffer beat two GMU defenders to receive a pass from freshman Anna Madden. After managing to carefully carry the ball to the top of the 18-yard box, the midfielder deftly chopped the charging Mason goalkeeper, tucking the ball just under the cross bar. The top-shelf finish effectively put the game on ice at 3-0. For her outstanding performances in the team’s last two matches, Schaffer was named CAA Player of the Week and to Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week.

“It’s good to start off the conference 2-0, a good weekend for us,” Schaffer said. “Overall it was a good win by the team.”

The Tribe’s second goal came earlier, in the 37th minute after a GMU foul gave the College a free kick from about 25 yards out. Senior midfielder Diana Weigel lined up from the right wing and sent a perfectly slicing ball into the crowded box with her left foot, where a closely-marked Bristol sprinted in to head the ball into the upper right corner of the net. Bristol said the set-piece goal came as the result of dogged repetition in practice, as well as a recent role-reversal on the part of the two midfielders.

“Usually I’m kicking set-pieces. This was one of the first ones I didn’t take,” she said. “We’ve been practicing this play over and over again. It was perfect where she hit that ball. All I needed was a little tap.”

After Bristol’s goal gave the Tribe a 2-0 lead, the Colonials had a golden opportunity at a point-blank header in the 45th minute, but junior goalkeeper Katherine Yount was perfectly positioned to make the save and secure the two-goal lead going into half. Yount’s bid for a third consecutive clean sheet ended, however, with just two minutes remaining in the game, when GMU midfielder Alyssa Andersen found forward Zoe Doherty unmarked in the middle of the box. Doherty took the pass, squared up from about 12 yards out and lofted a shot over the head of a leaping Yount to bring the score to 3-1. Although the Tribe defense was sound throughout, the goal irked an otherwise happy head coach John Daly.

“We could see the player was totally unmarked in the box,” he said. “That was disappointing and shouldn’t happen.”

On the whole, though, Daly was pleased with his team’s three-goal performance, especially given that the Tribe’s attacking style could have been slowed down by the soggy field conditions.

“The field was very slow, and that kind of slows our game down,” Daly said. “But to get the two goals before half was important. It wasn’t easy because the surface was just kind of dead from all the rain.”

The College will look to move to 3-0 in conference play on Thursday when Georgia State visits Martin Family Stadium, and Daly is cautiously optimistic that drier conditions will prevail, allowing his team to get back to its usual fast-paced style.

“We do try and move the ball quickly,” he said. “Hopefully the field will dry out a bit, and we’ll be able to keep it going.”