One Colonial Athletic Association player of the Year. Three first-team All-CAA and two second-team All-CAA players. Four on the CAA All-Rookie Team. Nine seniors, all returning from last year’s conference championship. A 2012 regular season title, home field advantage and a No. 1 seed in the the CAA Tournament.
As the second overtime period expired Friday night in the semifinal round of the CAA tournament, all of William and Mary’s myriad accomplishments suddenly faded from importance and the College’s chances of defeating Hofstra and advancing to Sunday’s final boiled down to one thing: penalty kicks.
Senior midfielder Cortlyn Bristol stepped to the line for the College, aiming to close the Tribe’s 3-2 deficit. As she smacked the ball towards the right post, Hofstra goaltender Emily Morphitis sprawled to her left, barely pushing the ball wide of the post.
“You never want to go to PKs. You try and read the player the best you can. I was just glad when the ball hit my hand,” Morphitis said.
Freshman midfielder Nicole Baxter was next, needing to convert to keep the College’s hopes alive.
Instead, Morphitis came up with another save, ending the Tribe’s quest for back-to-back tournament championships.
As No. 3 seed Hofstra rushed the field in celebration, the top seeded Tribe slowly headed toward the locker room.
“It is a tough way to lose any time it goes to PKs, but to be quite honest, I don’t think we deserved to win,” head coach John Daly said. “I don’t think we played anything like the level of soccer we’re capable of playing.”
Hofstra agitated the Tribe all night, pressuring the ball across the field. Usually a team quick to adapt to such a technique, the College struggled to find any consistent possession.
“Quite a few teams have [applied high pressure]. We’ve been able to handle it; we just didn’t play at all well,” Daly said. “I do commend them, the way they played, but if you went to every one of our kids and asked them to be perfectly honest – how did they individually and collectively play – they’d say the same as I just said.”
Although for long stretches of the match, seniors Mallory Schaffer and Bristol would finish the game with a few highlights.
Ten minutes into the second half, a long cross forced Morphitis to leave her line and make a routine save. Morphitis, though, found herself in the path of an oncoming Schaffer. Down for a few minutes, both players recovered and continued play.
Bristol found room to shine as well, weaving her way through three Pride defenders, managing to rip a shot inches above the crossbar late in the second half.
Daly was diplomatic when commenting on his two star seniors.
“The thing we all have to remember … is that we’re human.” head coach John Daly said. “[Schaffer] had one of her worst games of the season, and that can happen. Bristol] tried very hard, [but she] just didn’t get in the situations she normally does.
As the scoreless game headed into overtime, freshman goalkeeper Caroline Casey made the biggest of her 10 saves. With a Hofstra shot screaming in from just outside the penalty box, Casey launched herself horizontally to parry the blast aside.
Ultimately, however, the College would drop the contest in penalty kicks.
“We made a lot of elementary errors, and basically we didn’t get going, establish any rhythm; we rarely penetrated their defense. In the overtime period, they should have won. Caroline [Casey] kept us in it with one great save and a couple of good saves,” Daly said. “As I said, we just didn’t turn up on the night — sufficiently, desirously, whatever — I don’t know what the actual reason was. That was not a good display.”
With the CAA at a close, the College will wait to hear from the NCAA selection committee with hopes of entering the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.