With its impressive season nearing a close, William and Mary head coach Peel Hawthorne viewed her squad’s game against No. 9 Old Dominion Wednesday in Norfolk as a tune-up of sorts for the upcoming Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Tribe scheduled the Monarchs late in the season in order to better prepare itself for postseason play, and neither team disappointed.
The College battled with Old Dominion for two full periods before narrowly falling in overtime, 3-2. With Old Dominion (13-4, 6-0 CAA) ineligible for CAA tournament play because of its impending move to Conference-USA, the Tribe currently sits in third place in the conference.
Although the Tribe lost, Hawthorne was pleased with her team’s effort and their ability to hang with one of the best teams in the nation.
“It’s a terrific confidence builder, especially because we were able to sub extremely well,” Hawthorne said. “I think we used 11 subs, and the level didn’t drop when we put these people in and we really tried to keep fresh legs on the field. It was a tremendous confidence builder, to know that we can play with anybody.”
The Tribe benefitted from an exceptional performance by freshman attacker Pip Saunders, who scored both of the squad’s two goals. With 5 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the first period, Saunders weaved her way through the Monarch defense and slipped the ball past ODU goalkeeper Marla Petriello.
“Pippin had a great night, she really could have had a hat trick,” Hawthorne said. “The goalie got a piece of one of her shots which would have otherwise been another fast break situation.”
Exactly 30 seconds later, the Monarchs responded. ODU’s Nicole Goff pulled the Monarchs even with a score at the 5:44 mark. Neither team managed to log another goal for the remainder of the first half, resulting in a 1-1 halftime score.
After the intermission, ODU wasted no time, taking the lead with 35:35 left in the second half. ODU’s Danielle Clutter skillfully fed the ball to her teammate, Rosario Villagra, who put the ball in the back of the cage, giving ODU a 2-1 advantage.
Like the previous scoring exchange, the College responded quickly. Saunders knifed through the ODU defense and scored her second goal of the day, pulling the Tribe even at 2-2 at the 37: 16 mark. After the College’s swift retaliation, neither team was able to convert again, sending the contest into overtime.
The overtime period was hotly contested, with both squads having their fair share of chances to claim victory. For the majority of the extra session, senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Frey kept the College in the game with a series of impressive saves.
“Elizabeth Frey in overtime was unbelievable,” Hawthorne said. “She had a lot of close action saves in succession that were outstanding.“
At the 82:57 mark, however, ODU’s Emily Harting scored the decisive goal, slipping the ball past Frey and sending the College home with its third straight loss. Regardless of the final result, Hawthorne felt the Tribe played well and was intrigued by the short scoring bursts and odd game flow.
“It was just odd that both goals came together in the first half and both goals came together in the second half and then that was it,” Hawthorne said. “When we got to overtime, it was kind of the same thing. Both teams had a chance. They even had a yellow card in overtime, I thought for sure we were going to be able to convert, but honestly by that point, both teams were so tired.”
Due to a scheduling quirk, the Tribe will play Old Dominion for a second time in a row. The two schools will clash in Williamsburg on Senior Day, and the match could carry CAA tournament seeding implications. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s upcoming game against ODU, Hawthorne and her squad feel confident heading into the tournament, which begins next Thursday.
“There is so much parity in the conference now, and we’ve had one goal games with everybody except JMU. … It’s going to be a battle no matter what, and I think the girls are pretty relaxed, actually … Obviously, they are motivated to win and play hard, but there’s not really any pressure on them. Going into the tournament, its not going to make a heck of a difference, which seed we will draw.”