A five-game losing streak where four losses came at the hands of top-10 nationally ranked opponents wasn’t supposed to be an issue. A brutal non-conference schedule was supposed to prepare William and Mary for conference play. A combined 20-8 record in the CAA since 2008 coupled with a 31-9 all-time series record against Old Dominion was supposed to mean the Tribe had a good shot at victory Sunday against the Monarchs.
It didn’t. Old Dominion (4-7, 1-0 CAA) dominated the second half to pull past the Tribe (2-9, 0-1 CAA) and hand the College a 14-10 defeat in both teams’ first conference game of the season.
“I feel that we were well prepared going into the game, we had a great week of practice, probably the best we’ve had since we started the team in January. We came out, I think, a little bit off balance —
for some reason we just couldn’t get it together, offensively, defensively — we had a lot of turnovers. That was kinda the gist of it,” head coach Brooke Ireland said.
Not trailing once, the College put forth a solid effort in the first half. Even though they never led by more than two goals, the College’s defensive pressure kept the Monarchs out of rhythm offensively, and junior attacker Kyrstin Mackrides gave the Tribe some momentum when she scored with just zero minutes, twenty seconds remaining in the half to give the College a 6-5 lead. Mackrides used a long run into Monarchs territory to draw a foul, from which she converted the free position shot.
“We took some good shots — we were moving the ball well, just as we had all week. We were together but still played very flat. I don’t know why,” Ireland said.
The Monarchs, however, responded with a speedy 3-0 run in the opening 1:30 of the second half. Just 14 seconds into the half, ODU’s Lisa Bernardini gained possession, circled the Tribe’s net twice, shook off her defenders and found room to slide a shot past freshman goalie Lucy Ferguson.
After the restart and a quick Tribe turnover, the Monarchs scored again, 10 seconds after the preceding goal. Seconds later, Bernardini would again find space inside and in front of the College’s net to cap off the lightning-fast Monarch run at the 28:30 mark and give ODU an 8-6 advantage.
“I think our defense was asleep a little bit, and I think we broke down on communication. All season we’ve played exceptional team defense, and for some reason we weren’t communicating,” Ireland said.
From then on, the Tribe chased the game and suffered long spells of ODU possession. An inability to cause turnovers or retain any semblance of steady possession plagued the College as the Monarchs outshot the Tribe 16-9 — 28-21 on the day as a whole — to gain a 9-4 second half scoring advantage.
When the College found limited possession, however, it kept the game close. Sophomore attacker Taelor Salmon caught fire and provided an arching assist to junior midfielder Caitlin Murphy with 22:17 to play. Salmon struck again at 21:28 to pull the Tribe within one, as the scoreboard read 10-9 in favor of ODU.
But a 4-1 Monarchs run put the game out of reach. Rebecca Reymann split two Tribe defenders and beat Ferguson in front of the net for her second goal of the contest at the 2:36 mark to open up a four-goal edge that the College would not overcome.
One of the day’s few bright spots for the Tribe was its balanced attack on offense, as seven players scored at least one goal each. Salmon lead the way with two goals and two assists, while Mackrides contributed two goals and a helper. Ferguson recorded six saves in net.
“We need to have more communication all over the field. We could have taken that game if we had less turnovers, we had a little bit more communication defensively, and offensively if we had taken care of the ball a little bit and taken smarter shots, I think we could have taken that game,” said Ireland.
After dropping its conference opener, the Tribe will look to rebound Friday as it takes on Towson at 7:30 p.m. Towson narrowly dropped CAA-foe Delaware, 10-8, in both teams’ CAA-openers.