William and Mary kept up the torrid start to its conference schedule with a 3-0 win at UNC-Wilmington Saturday, moving its unbeaten streak to six games and its winning streak to five as junior midfielder Mallory Schaffer recorded another two-goal game to go along with an assist.
The shutout victory gives the Tribe (9-1-2, 4-0 CAA) a cushion atop the CAA, with Northeastern, Old Dominion and Drexel all trailing with conference records of 2-1-1.
As it did against Georgia State Thursday, the College put the game away early, scoring all three of its goals in the first half, with the last coming in the 23rd minute. From there, the defense took over as junior goalkeeper Katherine Yount recorded her CAA-leading shutout of the year on just one save.
While delighted with the team’s ability to set the tone from the start, head coach John Daly was concerned that the team was lessening the pressure as the match wore on.
“It’s tough to keep your foot on the gas when you’re three up,” he said. “And for the rest of the first, we really didn’t play that well.”
Schaffer gave the College an early lead with a penalty kick in the ninth minute, the result of a Seahawks foul on junior forward Cortlyn Bristol inside the 18-yard box.
Schaffer then doubled up the Tribe’s lead just 12 minutes later. Freshman forward Anna Madden sent a cross from the right wing into the box, finding the Pennsylvania native, who headed it past the UNC-W goalkeeper Chandler Follett. Daly called it a “superb header.”
The win marked the continuation of an incredible stretch of play from the junior. It was Schaffer’s third two-goal game in the College’s last four matches and increased her goal-scoring streak to six games. Her 11 goals tie her for the league lead.
“Mallory is playing exceptionally well,” Daly said. “She’s a very dangerous threat. She’s doing a good job in both directions. She’s such a strong force in the middle of the field; she has to be an early favorite for [CAA] Player of the Year.”
Schaffer was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week and as CAA Co-Player of the Week, both for the second week in a row Monday.
Just minutes later, the Tribe all but sealed the win. Schaffer took a pass on the right wing, controlling the ball and sending a cross to Bristol, who beat Follett from about 10 yards out, ultimately ending the day’s scoring.
The College dominated the first half in every way, outshooting the Seahawks, 5-0, before coasting to the shutout win in the second period.
“We’ve been playing quite well,” Daly said. “We’re playing some pretty attractive, entertaining soccer.”
The team’s feeling about its winning streak, however, will undoubtedly be tempered by the real tests that are yet to come. The College’s four conference wins came against four of the league’s bottom-five schools.
Daly’s squad still has tough road challenges against Northeastern and Old Dominion — both tied for second place — and CAA-favorite James Madison.
“We give ourselves a pat on the back, but we have to also make sure we’re not glossing over things,” Daly said. “We have some very tough games to go, and the teams we’ve beaten thus far have been in the bottom half of the conference. We can’t rest on our laurels; we’ve got to keep working hard.”
Before its five-game, season-closing road trip, the Tribe will come home to play Drexel — also tied for second in the conference — Friday and Delaware Sunday.