Old Dominion controlled the pace, had great goalkeeping, and was lethal with its chances Wednesday night at Martin Family Stadium, scoring a 3-0 win over William and Mary.
“I’ve got to give credit to Old Dominion. They’re definitely a very good team,” head coach Chris Norris said. “They’re very experienced in the attacking positions and they don’t need too many chances to create a really good chance.”
Though the Monarchs outshot the Tribe (7-5, 4-2 CAA) thirteen to 8, the College managed to stay even in shots on goal—both teams had four apiece. But the Monarchs were able to take advantage of their opportunities while the Tribe was unable to put the ball in the back of the net.
ODU drew first blood in the 25th minute when midfielder Tim Hopkinson found space at the top of the box and fired a shot into the top left corner past senior goalkeeper Colin Smolinsky to give his team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
“Giving up the first goal, knowing that we haven’t been a team that’s been really prolific in the offensive end, I think it hurt us psychologically,” Norris said. “We got caught a little bit with some naivete and I think that psychologically, we’ve got to get stronger.”
The Tribe’s offense was stifled in the first half, unable to give ODU goalkeeper Victor Francoz any real trouble. The Tribe never threatened to score until the game was out of reach.
“Whenever you go down a goal, it’s difficult, and only scoring eleven [in twelve games] has been a little bit of a problem,” senior midfielder Nicolas Abrigo said.
The College had the first real chance of the second half in the 46th minute, when Abrigo went on a run to chase down a long, high pass. Running into the box, he collided headfirst with Francoz. Abrigo was down for a minute before shortly reentering the game, but the College’s gooseegg remained on the board.
Just a minute later, the Monarchs doubled their lead on a blown play in the back. ODU midfielder Gideon Asante worked a nice pass to forward Alex Vaughan, who found himself alone with the keeper on the right side. Vaughan doubled back and easily put the ball low and to the far side of Smolinsky for the second goal.
“I’m most disappointed with the second goal. I thought at halftime, even down a goal, we were in good position to get back in the game,” Norris said. “When they come down the field, we get a little bit too loose on Asante, and good players make plays like that. He slips the ball in, and then they punish us.”
Norris said part of the team’s gameplan was not to give the ODU forwards enough room to create plays such as the one that led to the Monarchs’ second goal.
“First and foremost, our defense needs to be strong,” Abrigo said. “We need to be pressuring with our forwards through our midfield and back through the defense, and we just didn’t do a good enough job of that today.”
ODU put the icing on the cake with its third goal in the 60th minute. A cross was deflected off of sophomore defender Will Smith, and Monarch forward Yannick Smith got a head to it, sending it past Smolinsky.
“Third goal was a little bit unlucky. Just a strange deflection,” Norris said. “Unfortunately, it just was one of those nights, it seemed, for us.”
The Tribe put together some threatening attacks to close out the game, but was unable to put a goal on the board, largely due to the strong play of Francoz, who had four saves in the final thirty minutes, including a diving stop on a rebounded shot. Norris said he hoped the Tribe would get a goal “for the sake of belief and confidence.”
“Their goalie played superb today. He made a couple of point-blank saves that could’ve definitely changed the game,” Abrigo said.
The Tribe, now sitting behind ODU at third place in the CAA, will look to rebound when it heads to Richmond for another conference-matchup with Virginia Commonwealth.
“We’ll definitely look at this as another learning point,” Abrigo said. “But it’s done.”