William and Mary’s contest against Auburn featured more than just the chance to register the program’s seventh win over an SEC opponent.
Entering the contest, head coach John Daly had accumulated 349 career wins, all at the helm of the College. A victory over Auburn would have given Daly 350 career wins and yet another item to add to his already lengthy list of achievements.
Mallory Schaffer’s go-ahead goal at the 28 minutes, 28 second mark, coupled with Dani Rutter’s goal, propelled the Tribe past Auburn by a 2-0 margin and firmly planted Daly in the ranks of William and Mary’s all-time greats.
For Daly, the mark comes after a slew of prior achievements. Oct. 3, 2008 saw Daly become the fourth women’s soccer coach to win 300 games with one school in NCAA Division I history. Daly is the ninth coach in Division I to register 300 wins.
Twenty-six seasons have also seen Daly lead the College to 20 NCAA appearances. Daly holds a 350-142-42 all-time record, and a 124-29-12 ledger against CAA foes.
Daly’s 350th win began a defensive struggle, as both William and Mary (3-2) and Auburn (3-3) fought to find an offensive rhythm.
The deadlock would end as Auburn fouled Tribe senior forward Erin Liberatore in the penalty area. Schaffer, last season’s team leading goal scorer, stepped to the penalty area, and seconds later found the back of the net. Schaffer’s conversion at the 28:28 mark gave the Tribe a 1-0 advantage.
Schaffer’s fourth goal on the young season came as no surprise. Last season’s 17-goal, 40-point output launched Schaffer into the national discussion of collegiate soccer’s elite.
As she enters her senior year, Schaffer aims to validate her litany of preseason awards and recognitions. Among the most prominent, Schaffer collected preseason All-American and CAA Player of the Year nominations alongside a spot on the Hermann Trophy watch list. Each year the Hermann Trophy recognizes the nation’s top collegiate soccer players.
Coming out of the half, Auburn looked to leave its mark on the contest. After stout defending withstood the early onslaught, the Tribe mounted their own attack.
Deep in Auburn territory, forward Cortlyn Bristol broke free and found the space to slot a pass to Rutter. Rutter made the most of the opportunity for the College’s second goal of the day.
As time wound down, the Tribe would maintain the two-goal advantage for the victory and secure Daly’s milestone.
As the College enters the Villanova Tournament, it will look to continue a recent streak of success. Following a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Duke University and a heart-breaking double overtime loss to the University of Tennessee earlier in the season, the College has posted three consecutive wins.
Victories over Akron, Richmond and Auburn have also showcased a much improved defense from the inaugural match against Duke. Freshman keeper Caroline Casey has been instrumental in the team’s three consecutive shutouts.
On the other end of the pitch, the offense has found a rhythm as well, tallying a 9-0 goal advantage over opponents over the three-game stretch.
The College next faces Villanova on Friday. Saturday pits Seton Hall against the Tribe, who will look to Schaffer and the offense to keep producing while the defense focuses on keeping a clean sheet.
For Daly, it’s just another series of games — more steps towards another milestone.