As far as William and Mary head coach Peel Hawthorne and the Tribe were concerned, the last five minutes of Sunday’s game against Miami (Ohio) seemed like an eternity.
The Redhawks, desperate to tie the game at two goals apiece, launched shot after shot in the waning minutes of the game. The last three minutes were spent in College territory, and after a couple of near misses, the Tribe successfully rebuffed Miami to secure a 2-1 victory at Busch Field.
“Miami was putting us under a tremendous amount of pressure at the end of the game, and it’s a challenge to keep your composure when you’re getting pressured like that,” Hawthorne said. “I thought [redshirt freshman goalkeeper] Cate Johnson made some really key saves at the end of those corners, but we got a little rattled and probably created more mess in front of us than we should have. Miami did a good job, but we could have done a better job of cleaning up.”
Johnson and the Tribe defense turned back a barrage of Miami advances, including a number of corners. The Redhawks nearly tied the game with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left in the game on a corner, but Johnson made a spectacular diving save to preserve the victory. From there, the College couldn’t get the ball completely out of its own territory, but managed to keep Miami from scoring.
“Obviously, they were really trying hard to get a goal,” redshirt sophomore defender Jesse Ebner said. “We lost our composure a little bit in the back, but we were all back there talking together. It was really stressful, but in the end we just kept trying to get the ball out and hopefully get it to the corners, not in the middle, so it worked out for us in the end. But hopefully we can work on that and make it better in the future.”
While the College was on the defensive for a significant portion of the second half, the Tribe kept the ball in Miami territory for the majority of the first half. The College’s attackers had a number of near misses and missed opportunities before finally breaking through.
At the 23:13 mark in the first half, sophomore attacker Brittany Hopkins slipped the ball past Miami goalkeeper Sarah Mueller for what would have been the College’s first score of the day. As the team broke into celebration, the officials called back the score because of a foul that occurred just before Hopkins launched her shot.
“We were a little unlucky there on the goal that was called back, but it’s the nature of the beast with hockey,” Hawthorne said. “You just have to keep putting it on cage and eventually one will go in for you.”
And eventually, one did.
Senior defender Maria Caro took the feed from junior midfielder Sarah Morehouse off a corner play and fired it into the back of cage, giving the College a 1-0 lead.
The Tribe maintained its momentum after the half. At the 39:08 mark, junior midfielder Taylor Hodge made the best of a broken corner play. Hodge flipped the ball up in the air and over Mueller into the back of the cage to widen the Tribe lead at 2-0.
“The ball just came in off a rebound and I found it in front of the cage, and I just kind of turned and flicked it up,” Hodge said. “There was a moment there where I thought the defender was going to come in and box it down, so it was a little bit of a wait and it came real slow, but I was set up by my teammates.”
Miami managed to close the gap just a few minutes later as Kaitlin Evans slipped the ball past Johnson, giving the Redhawks their lone score of the day.
Despite the nailbiting end, the College successfully navigated one of the most treacherous parts of its schedule. The Tribe fell in a tough contest Tuesday against No. 9 Virginia, but then defeated No. 11 Boston University 1-0 Friday in a signature victory.
After its most recent triumph against Miami, the Tribe heads up north for a pair of Colonial Athletic Association tilts, beginning with No. 7 Northeastern Friday.
“Northeastern is probably going to be looking for a bit of revenge since we knocked ‘em out last year when they were ranked No. 20, so we are just really going to take our off day and rest our legs and come back hard on it Tuesday,” Hodge said. “Everything we have done up to this point is great, but nothing really matters except conference [play], so we have to start off with a win.”