Sunday’s game marked the final home regular season contest of standout senior forward Cortlyn Bristol and midfielder Mallory Schaffer’s respective careers, and both went out with a bang, leading William and Mary past Hofstra, 3-2, in overtime.
The win puts the College in sole possession of first place atop the Colonial Athletic Association with one match remaining in the regular season, and also gives the Tribe home-field advantage during the upcoming CAA tournament.
In a game not lacking in drama and controversy, the Tribe needed nearly every minute of regulation to overcome a one-goal deficit, and then 15 minutes in extra time to score the golden goal and avoid a draw that would have left it tied with Hofstra at first place in the standings.
Short a player for the majority of the match after senior captain Brooke Bendernagel was sent off amid controversy in the 24th minute for arguing with an official, Hofstra clung to a 2-1 lead through the 87th minute. With three minutes remaining, freshman midfielder Nicole Baxter played Schaffer into the box perfectly, and the All-American tucked a shot just inside the right post past a charging keeper for the equalizer. The late-game scramble knotted the score at 2-2 to ensure overtime.
“At that point we were pretty desperate; we were all pushed forward,” Schaffer said. “I took a glance up and saw the far corner of the goal was wide open and I just passed it there, and it went in.”
The golden goal came off the foot of Bristol in the fifth minute of the second extra-time period. With the College flooding the box in search of the game-winner, sophomore forward Emory Camper fired off an attempt from 15 yards that was deflected back into the box. Both Schaffer and Bristol had a chance at the rebound, but Bristol called for it and one-timed the decisive goal home to end the match.
“Mallory was there, but I told her to leave it, and just hit it with the inside of my foot, and it was right there,” Bristol said.
The Pride scored first in the 20th minute when Hofstra midfielder Jeanine Molleda blasted a shot that freshman keeper Caroline Casey could not keep out of the net despite a sprawling attempt. Four minutes later, Bendernagel got ejected and the College looked to take advantage of its short-handed opponent. A flurry of missed chances ensued, with both Bristol and Camper missing wide-open volley attempts from the middle of the area. But the Hofstra defense was on its heels, and eventually the College got on the scoreboard when Camper headed home a cross from Bristol to tie the game 1-1 going into halftime.
A resilient Hofstra emerged undaunted in the second half to score the go-ahead goal in the 59th minute despite playing short-handed. The goal came after Casey knocked down a line-drive shot from 18 yards out but failed to smother the ball. Casey could only watch helplessly as Hofstra’s Brittany Fariella tapped it in for the lead. That lead would hold for the next thirty minutes of play until Schaffer could once again demonstrate her trademark finishing touch in the final third. The clutch goal came despite her not being in top form, and a conservative Hofstra side that was playing defensive soccer to preserve the win.
“[Hofstra] was settling for a draw,” head coach Jon Daly said. “We played very, very poorly, and [Bristol and Schaffer] were struggling.”
Daly subbed for both his star seniors midway through the second half, challenging them both to play with more aggression and energy. The rare tactical tweak proved effective, as an invigorated Bristol and Schaffer took the cue to provide late-game heroics.
“When I came out, I thought maybe I wasn’t playing as hard as I could,” said Bristol. “I just wanted to go back in more than anything, and I went back in and made it my job to just try harder.”
In a scary moment, Schaffer would be forced to come off a second time at the very end of regulation, after her near-miss on a header resulted in a violent collision with the Hofstra keeper. After lying motionless for a few minutes, the senior walked-off gingerly and went to the locker-room for evaluation. Her return seemed questionable at best, but a determined Schaffer returned just two minutes into the first extra-time period.
“I wanted to go back in right away, but they wouldn’t let me,” Schaffer said, adding that she wasn’t about to miss the final minutes of a match that had significant implications for her team’s postseason hopes. “It was [definitely] a huge game for us. We had to win this game if we want to potentially host [in the postseason].”