William and Mary improved its record to 3-0 in CAA play with a 3-0 shutout of Georgia State Thursday night at Martin Family Stadium. With a first-half offensive onslaught, the College (8-1-2) virtually put the game away by halftime.
The Tribe exploited gaps in the Panther defense throughout the first half, striking first in the 10th minute when freshman midfielder Aly Shaughnessy found junior midfielder Mallory Schaffer with a perfectly weighted through-ball. Sprinting unmarked through the heart of the GSU defense, Schaffer converted the one-on-one opportunity with ease for her team-leading ninth goal of the season.
Seven minutes later sophomore midfielder Dani Rutter led the Tribe on a counterattack, sending a timely cross to the left wing where junior Cortlyn Bristol was waiting unguarded. Her shot deflected off the GSU goalkeeper but bounced right to junior midfielder Erin Liberatore, who battled two Panther defenders to get just enough on the ball to watch it creep over the goal line and give the College an early 2-0 lead. The hustle-play gave Liberatore her third goal on the season.
“I saw Cortlyn’s ball coming in,” Liberatore said. “It kind of ricocheted off the goal and I just tapped it in.”
What would be the third and final goal of the game came in the 40th minute when freshman forward Emory Camper found a wide-open Audrey Barry sprinting up the right-wing. The junior took the perfect cross in stride from just inside the 18-yard box before beating the keeper with a shot to the far-post.
Barry was relieved to get her first goal of the season for a Tribe team that’s been scoring with ease.
“The team’s [scored] a lot of goals this season,” she said. “I was waiting to break into the scoring, and it felt good to finally get in there.”
The box score reflected the lopsidedness of the first half, as the Tribe outshot the Panthers 12-2 in the first 45 minutes.
Both Barry and Liberatore have unique roles on the team, substituting frequently to share minutes with Camper and fellow freshman Anna Madden.
“It’s kind of hard to just jump in there when people are starting to gel together,” Liberatore said. “But a few minutes in we usually know where each other are.”
Both know they have to be ready when called on by Tribe head coach John Daly, who often substitutes multiple times in hopes of energizing his team.
“He usually tells you to do something when you go in, and if you don’t you’ll be right back on the bench,” Liberatore said.
Daly often experiments with the chemistry to find the best fit for his team.
“They both have qualities that we need on the field,” Daly said. “It’s a case of [giving] 20 minutes to one and 20 minutes to the other, and if one is playing much better then we’ll usually stay with them.”
While the substitutions provided a spark, it was the Tribe defense that remained consistent from start to finish, staving off a persistent GSU attack to keep a clean sheet in the second half. Daly added that the defense was the focus coming into the second half.
“We said at halftime with a three-goal lead, we really wanted to make sure we didn’t concede a goal,” Daly said.
Junior goalkeeper Katherine Yount notched her sixth shutout of the year, recording nine saves.
The College will look to maintain its sole possession of first place in the CAA when it goes on the road to take on 2-9 UNC-Wilmington Sunday.