Three games into a season is usually a bit early to talk about “must win” games, but William and Mary head coach Chris Norris labeled the Tribe’s Saturdsay showdown with Richmond as such.
Norris’ squad, which had been held scoreless in its two prior contests, showed plenty of offensive spark Saturday. The College delivered on Norris’ request and downed the Spiders 3-0 to secure its first victory of the season.
Sophomore midfielder Chris Perez made the first key play for the College, slashing into the penalty box before being shoved to the ground by a Spiders defender. Perez’ stellar play drew a penalty kick, which senior midfielder Ben Anderson drilled to give the Tribe a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the contest.
“Chris Perez is a guy we rely on a lot for attacking impetus,” Norris said. “He’s got some serious quickness and one-on-one ability … to get that first goal was a huge weight off our shoulders.”
After Anderson’s score, the College’s back line turned in a dominating performance. The line, which features sophomores Marcus Luster and Michael Teiman and juniors Roshan Patel and Will Smith, withstood an onslaught of attacks from the Spiders offense through the entire first half as the Tribe clung to their 1-0 lead.
Smith — the anchor of the defense and a preseason All-CAA first team honoree — was quick to give credit to his teammates.
“Being able to defend as a team is a key concept for us, and I think we did that well tonight,” Smith said.
Though they faced threats to their lead for nearly 50 minutes, the College’s rock solid back line never faltered, turning away every attack and benefiting from strong play by sophomore goalkeeper Bennett Jones. Jones pitched a shutout while registering five saves.
The tipping point of the match came in the 59th minute, when Patel headed a corner kick into the goal. The goal came just four minutes after Smith rejected a scoring chance by Richmond’s Houston Oldham to preserve the Tribe lead. Patel’s goal gave the College a commanding 2-0 lead and provided all the fuel they needed to close out the match.
“At halftime…in the locker room we were like, ‘We have to get that second or third goal to solidify this game.’ … After that you could see we stepped forward a bit more and had a perk in our step,” Patel explained.
Sophomore forward Patrick O’Brien led the College with five shots, one of them on goal. Senior midfielder Ben Anderson registered three shots, a goal and an assist, while sophomore midfielder Ben West also recorded an assist and three shots.
Tribe used their two-goal cushion to spend the final third of the game playing aggressive offense. The game was hardly in doubt for the final thirty minutes, making sophomore midfielder Chris Albiston’s 89th minute goal icing on the cake for the College.
The Tribe hopes the win will set the bar for the rest of the season. The team will travel to St. John’s next week before competing in a tournament at Creighton on Sept. 14.