William and Mary opened Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday with a sharp 2-1 win on the road against James Madison. After playing four consecutive overtime matches, the Tribe (4-1-4, 1-0 CAA) needed only 90 minutes to dispatch the Dukes and extend its unbeaten streak to eight games.
“We didn’t play as well as I would have liked, but we defended very well and we didn’t give them a lot of opportunities,” head coach John Daly evaluated.
Saturday’s victory marked the Tribe’s tenth-straight win in its CAA-opener. The streak goes back to the 2004 season, when the Tribe defeated Delaware. The College is 18-3 in the CAA over the last two years.
The victory came at a key part of the College’s season. Although it has not lost since its opening game, the Tribe has been held to just five goals in its previous five games. The team needed a win to start off CAA play — and they delivered.
JMU challenged the Tribe from the beginning, notching the game’s first four unsuccessful shots. The Tribe finally had an opportunity in the 11th minute with an on-target strike by senior forward Dani Rutter that was narrowly saved. The Dukes had a near goal off a header by Haley Miller, but sophomore goalie Caroline Casey secured the save to keep the game scoreless.
The Tribe offense finally struck in the 42nd minute, when Rutter’s shot was blocked and ricocheted to junior forward Emory Camper. Camper headed the rebound into the open net to stake the College to a 1-0 lead at intermission. The goal was Camper’s fifth goal of the season.
Despite the Tribe’s lead at halftime, JMU largely controlled the game in the first half. The Dukes out-shot the Tribe 11-4, however all four of the College’s shots were on goal. The hosts also held the College without a corner kick in the opening period.
The Dukes opened the second half with a pair of shots, but both sailed harmlessly wide of the net. Camper nearly struck again for the College in the 65th minute, but her header cleared the crossbar to keep the Tribe’s lead at 1-0.
The Dukes continued to threaten the Tribe with two shots on goal just three minutes apart. However, Casey deftly stopped both attempts short to bring her total to four saves on the day.
After over 30 minutes of scoreless play to open the second half, the College finally earned a much-needed insurance goal. Junior forward Anna Madden whipped a through ball up-field to Rutter, who maneuvered past the goalkeeper for her second goal of the year and a 2-0 Tribe lead in the 86th minute.
The Dukes finally earned their own goal when forward Kelly Kerrigan fired in from the box in the 89th minute, cutting the College’s lead to 2-1 with barely a minute left in the contest. The Dukes were unable to muster another shot against the visitors, and the Tribe captured a win in their first CAA game.
The Tribe won despite being out-shot 16-9 — largely because five of their attempts were on target. Casey, who is averaging less than one goal allowed per game, was typically strong in goal, and the Tribe defense only allowed four shots on goal to help earn the narrow victory. Daly was particularly pleased with his team’s defensive effort.
“Caroline made a couple of good saves when they threatened … everyone really combined and worked hard to neutralize them … we kept our focus and determination at a high level and just denied them the opportunities,” Daly said.
The Tribe will continue CAA play when they face Drexel Thursday night in Philadelphia. The team will then return to Williamsburg for a four game home stand, opening with a 2 p.m. game Sunday against Delaware at Martin Family Stadium.