With a goal by North Carolina-Wilmington defender Hannes Schmitz with 11 minutes left in the match, William and Mary saw itself looking at what would be their seventh loss on record. As the clock hit zero, the College faced the reality of a 3-0 defeat; a loss that leaves the team 2-7-2 with seven games remaining in what has already been a testing season.
“There’s really nowhere to go but up from here – we’ve really hit rock bottom and we’ve got to come out and try to get a win in our next game no matter what it takes,” senior midfielder Ben Anderson said. “[We play] Towson on Saturday, it’s a winnable game, so we just need to get a win.”
The Tribe has been winless in their five previous games and hoped to change that with a strong performance against a 4-5-1 UNC-W squad.
Sophomore midfielder Chris Albiston led the Tribe to a strong start with his crosses from the flanks, but the team was unable to capitalize on their numerous chances in the attacking third. Though the team was able to continuously whip balls into the box, the inability to make the most of opportunities in the attacking third came back to haunt them later in the game.
“We kept trying to create chances by getting it wide and crossing it in, and that’s been something we have been working on, but we just aren’t having the success we want to,” Anderson said.
Failing to connect on the final pass was a recurring theme for the Tribe. Unable to score off their chances, UNC-W began to press and establish rhythm and control that took both teams scoreless into the half.
Despite the lack of goals at halftime, the College came out strong in the first half.
“[We] came out with a little more energy than we had previously, and our willingness to attack was a little better in the first half,” freshman midfielder Jackson Eskay said.
This desire to attack would continue into the second half when the team had a chance to score seconds after the restart, but the goalkeeper deflected the shot on goal. Minutes later, UNC-W capitalized on the missed chance and scored the match’s first goal.
After that goal, the Tribe never fully recovered their footing and continued to chase into the later stages of the match.
“Our mentality is fragile, so a goal against us feels like two. Part of it is that we haven’t been prolific ourselves in front of goal and we’re on a bad run. When you’re on a bad run, sometimes you think everything is going to go against you. You go down a goal, you feel like it’s a mountain to climb. Forty seconds in we have a chance to score. If that goes in, than that will change the nature of the game,” head coach Chris Norris said.
UNC-W would add another goal to their lead in the 66th minute and seal the team’s fate in the 79th.
The concern did not seem to lie with the team’s defensive effort or performance in the attacking third. Norris believes if the team can cut down on mistakes, they will begin to see the results they desire.
“Our defenders as a group have played very well this year. The goals we’re conceding a lot of times are a result of things happening up the field. It is quite simply a bad turnover. I’m more concerned about us in every position making fewer mistakes since it’s not one area of the team we need to improve right not. It’s really if everyone makes 10 percent fewer mistakes, I think the cumulative effect will be great,” Norris said.
The Tribe hopes to find itself with a few more wins by focusing on small, overlooked parts of the game. The quest begins again Saturday in Baltimore against Towson.
“I still believe we have the opportunity to turn this around and keep searching for answers and looking for ways to bounce back on Saturday. Trying to stay positive and cut out the simple mistakes, connect more first passes and fewer mistakes,” Norris said.