Women’s soccer: Next stop, semifinals

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October 31, 2011

10:51 PM

William and Mary closed out its regular season with a 4-0 pounding of Old Dominion Friday, further solidifying its status as a CAA tournament favorite heading into the team’s first round bye.

Now, the Tribe (15-2-2, 10-1 CAA) will wait in anticipation as fourth-seeded Delaware and fifth-seeded Hofstra play for the right to take on the College in the tournament’s semifinal round.

The Lady Monarchs began Friday’s match on the offensive, ripping five shots in the first 15 minutes alone. But the Tribe defense wouldn’t buckle under the pressure, and in the 24th minute the College struck.

Junior midfielder Mallory Schaffer, who leads the conference in goals with 19 and points with 34, needed just one touch to send a pass to junior forward Cortlyn Bristol on the left side of the box. Bristol fired it past ODU goalkeeper Brianna Alvarado for her seventh of the season, giving the College the early lead.

A Lady Monarch breakdown then led to the Tribe’s second goal. In the 40th minute, ODU failed to clear the ball from inside the 18 yard box. Sophomore attacker Dani Rutter then picked up the loose ball and drove it into the back of the net, doubling the College’s lead heading into the half.

Rutter wasn’t done there, though. In the 47th minute, about 16 yards from the goal, the sophomore found herself on the receiving end of a pass from Bristol. Rutter collected the ball and tucked it to the right of Alvarado and into the net for her second goal of the night and seventh of the season.

With the game virtually over, the College put the cherry on top in the 77th minute. After freshman forward Emory Camper sent a shot bouncing off the crossbard and back into the box, freshman forward Anna Madden gathered the rebound and beat Alvarado for her third score of the year.

The win was junior goalkeeper Katherine Yount’s conference-leading ninth shutout of the season, as the Virginia native stopped all four of ODU’s shots on goal. All told, the Lady Monarchs took 13 shots compared to the Tribe’s 11.

The victory closes the page on what has been a storybook season thus far for the Tribe. The College has dominated conference play, leading the league in wins, goals, shots, assists, goals allowed and shutouts. In its 19 matches, the team racked up 49 goals while conceding just 12. The Tribe locked up the CAA regular season title with three conference games still to go.

But questions still remain after the team’s dominant regular season. In its second to last regular season match, the College’s 10-game win streak was snapped on the road at second-seeded Virginia Commonwealth University in a 1-0 shutout.

If the two meet again in the CAA tournament final, however, VCU will have to travel to Williamsburg, as the top-seeded team not only gets a first-round bye, but also home-field advantage throughout.

But for now, the team will await the winner of Thursday’s game between the Blue Hens and the Pride, teams that the Tribe played consecutively in mid October. The College scored a 2-1 win over Delaware at home before traveling to Hofstra and dropping the Pride 1-0.

with my reads,” Graham said. “There’s always room for improvement; it’s something that might come with time.”

Experience on the field is a luxury that Graham has not enjoyed to this point. On the scout team as a freshman and coming into camp as the third-string quarterback this year, most of his reps have been mental rather than physical.

“Probably the hardest thing was just not getting the reps,” Graham said. “They say take mental reps, but mental reps only can do so much. I knew what I was doing; I just hadn’t done it all that often.”

While experience must come with time, the sophomore already has a strong sense of how to be a leader on the team. While he doesn’t consider himself especially vocal, he understands when to speak up.

“You have to lead with confidence but you don’t want to be that guy that everyone hates,” he said. “You have to tell someone when they’re doing something wrong to fix it and they can’t get mad at you for that.”

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