William and Mary entered its Thursday night matchup with UNC-Wilmington on a tear to start its 2012 conference slate.
In its first three CAA games, the Tribe (10-3, 4-0 CAA) won by a combined score of 8-0, its most recent game a 5-0 thrashing of Towson.
The Seahawks (7-6-1, 2-3 CAA) made it clear from the opening that they wouldn’t be victimized the same way the Tigers were, but in the end still fell to the College 3-1 at Martin Family Stadium.
UNC-W quickly put an end to the Tribe’s consecutive shutout streak. Trouble started for the College in the 7th minute when it conceded a corner kick from the left side to the Seahawks. The initial threat of the corner was averted before UNC-W’s Kim Currie made a long pass across the 18-yard box to the right side of the box where Natalie Winslow one-timed a short chip shot over freshman goalkeeper Caroline Casey and into the net on the far side.
“First 20 minutes we were very, very sloppy,” head coach John Daly said. “The scouting report was that they serve the ball long at corner kicks and we had everyone too close in, we didn’t have anyone covering the long post.”
It didn’t take long for the Tribe to respond though. Not surprisingly, the equalizer came from the team-leader in goals, senior midfielder Mallory Schaffer.
Early in the 23rd minute, Schaffer gained possession of a bouncing ball, just inside the top of the penalty area. Schaffer took it down and cracked a powerful shot that bounced off the crossbar and over the endline for her ninth goal of the year.
“I was back post and took a touch,” Schaffer said. “Trapped it, and I saw the keeper starting to come out and I just ripped it with my left foot as hard as I could.”
For the rest of the half, the two teams probed on the attack, looking for opportunities but finding little space in front of goal. In the 28th minute, Schaffer nearly struck again on what would have been an impressive individual effort when she possessed from about 24 yards out, dribbled left and past the defender and struck a hard, dribbling shot that skidded just outside of the right crossbar.
The first-half box score bore the story of an evenly-matched opening half. Both teams logged seven shots, the Tribe putting four on the frame to the Seahawks’ three shots on goal, still, Daly and his team were confident at the half.
“I knew if we got to half time tied up or ahead, we would be fine,” Daly said.
The College wasted no time in the second half. In the 46th minute, junior forward Audrey Barry took control on the left side of UNC-W territory and played a long cross to Bristol. A Seahawks defender lunged and missed, and Bristol took a shot that deflected to junior midfielder Danni Rutter, who went far-post and buried a point-blank shot to put the Tribe up 2-1.
“Cortlyn took a shot off Audrey’s cross, and it ended coming to me,” Rutter said. “Just placing it into the goal, we work on that all the time.”
A barrage of near-goals from the College followed, but timely UNC-W defending kept the Seahawks within a goal.
Finally, with just over 20 minutes to play, the Tribe doubled its lead. Barry drove down the right side to the end line and played a cross that was deflected out of play by a Seahawk for a corner kick. Bristol then launched the corner into the box, where Rutter poked it past the goalkeeper and in for her second goal of the half, giving the College an insurmountable 3-1 lead. It was Bristol’s third assist of the night.
“Cortlyn was magical,” Daly said. “She was outstanding.”
The Tribe finished the night with 20 shots to UNC-Wilmington’s 11, and remains undefeated in conference play.
“It feels pretty good,” Schaffer said. “We’re hoping to keep it up.”