Junior midfielder Mallory Schaffer’s two goals were the difference in No. 21 William and Mary’s 3-1 win at Northeastern Saturday, as the College (13-1-2, 8-0 CAA) clinched the regular season CAA title with three games remaining. The victory was the team’s eighth in a row and secures home-field advantage for the Tribe throughout the conference tournament starting Nov. 4.
“I’d certainly rather be playing [the single-elimination tournament] at home than playing away,” head coach John Daly said. “It’s definitely a good situation for us now.”
Guaranteeing a first-place finish for the Tribe in the regular season also means the team will get a first-round bye in the championship tournament.
The College got on the board early when Schaffer got her head on the receiving end of a corner kick from junior forward Cortlyn Bristol in the 11th minute.
According to Daly, Schaffer wasn’t going to play in the match after being sidelined in the Tribe’s previous game due to injury.
“I planned on not playing her because she had to come out of the game Friday night,” Daly said. “I was getting ready to leave the hotel, and she came and told me she felt much better, so I immediately put her back in the lineup.”
Just 14 minutes later, Schaffer struck again, doubling the Tribe’s lead. The Pennsylvania native took a pass from sophomore midfielder Dani Rutter off a College throw-in and fired a low-liner past Northeastern goalkeeper Paige Burnett and inside the far post. The goal was Schaffer’s league-leading 14th of 2011.
“[Schaffer] really has been tremendous all season long,” Daly said. “She’s been scoring goals regularly, and she wins the ball in the midfield.”
The midfielder was involved in the College’s third and final goal as well. In the 34th minute, Schaffer found sophomore forward Audrey Barry as she made a run down the right wing. One-on-one with the goalie, Barry flicked the ball inside the far post and past Burnett for her second goal of the season. The assist accounted for Schaffer’s CAA-best 33rd best.
The Huskies finally got on the board in the second half when Greta Samuelsdottir beat junior goalkeeper Katherine Yount in the 48th minute, but the College’s three first-half goals were too much to overcome.
“The game was pretty much over at halftime,” Daly said. “They scored a goal early in the second half, which made me a little anxious. But the defenders, [sophomore] Tara Connors and [freshman] Emily Fredrikson, were very good. Northeastern has a couple of very dangerous forwards.”
Yount racked up five saves as Northeastern outshot the Tribe 20-19.
The match in Boston was the second and final game of the team’s weekend trip to the Northeast. The College beat CAA foe Hofstra 2-1 Friday in Hempstead, N.Y.
“I think [the players] are all a bit tired, to be honest,” Daly said. “But I also picked up on a good buzz around the team. You’re together on a long bus ride and together for meals, so it was more of a plus than a minus.”
With three regular season games remaining, the team will head out on the road again this weekend for games at James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth.