William and Mary fell to Virginia Commonwealth University 2-1 Friday in Richmond, Va., after a 28-minute lead was spoiled by two Rams goals toward the end of the second period. The College (6-10, 3-1 CAA) shook off that defeat, however, capturing a 2-0 victory over Drexel at Busch Field Sunday.
The Tribe dominated the first period, outshooting the Rams 7-1. The College’s top scoring senior forward Pippin Saunders poked the ball into the back of the net in the 34th minute for the first goal of the game, and her eighth of the season. The Tribe maintained its lead until the 63rd minute, when Rams midfielder Kendell Combs evened the score. The tie was broken within the very last minute of the game, when Combs struck again off a corner for a 2-1 VCU win.
The College totaled 14 shots on goal, while VCU only mustered five. The Tribe also had nine penalty corners to the Rams’ three.
“I was excited after the game on Friday night. I thought we played good hockey, we just didn’t get the win,” head coach Tess Ellis said. “I thought it was a bit of a street fight on Friday night and the girls were angry at practice yesterday for losing. So we cleaned up a lot of stuff.”
The Tribe finished the first period on Sunday with 10 shots on goal, two of which made it to the back of the net to give the College a 2-0 lead in the first nine minutes of the game. Senior midfielder Emma Clifton scored both Tribe goals. Clifton struck first in the sixth minute, then scored in the ninth minute off a corner after a pass by senior defender Jesse Ebner.
“I was just lucky that I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Clifton said. “We’ve practiced all week having strong corners on attack and I thought we were really good at executing them. Unfortunately, we could have gotten a couple more goals but I’m happy with the win.”
Ellis said she was pleased with the team’s offensive performance, and commended Clifton.
“Normally she’s the one giving all of the assists, so its sort of nice that she gets a moment on senior day to grab two goals,” Ellis said. “I think it will make other teams a little bit more aware of [Clifton] on the field, which might take a little bit of pressure off [senior forward Pippin Saunders] and a few others up front. … Our midfield is scoring and not just leaving it up to the forwards. That’s huge for us.”
The first period rush was enough to sustain the win for the Tribe, as the second half was scoreless for both teams. During the second period, the College totaled 16 shots on goal against Drexel’s 10. Rams goalkeeper Jantien Gunter made 10 saves during the game, softening the Drexel loss. The Tribe was able to guard the net during a total of six penalty corners.
“I thought we came out really strong,” Clifton said. “Obviously, it’s a bit of a sentimental day, being senior day, but we really took care of business. We were so much better in defense today and I thought the senior players really stepped up and had a great game overall.”
The team will face a colder climate this weekend. The Tribe will head to New York to face Hofstra (12-5, 3-1 CAA) Friday and then Boston to face Northeastern (12-4, 3-1 CAA) Sunday. A victory against either team will secure the Tribe a spot in the CAA Championships.
Hofstra is currently on a five-game win streak, and Clinfton addressed the Tribe’s hopes for the upcoming matchup.
“We want to be seated second or third,” Clifton said. “So we’re looking to beat both Hofstra and Northeastern to really put us into a strong position leading into conference play.”
The Tribe’s record is now 6-10 but 3-1 in the CAA. The College is currently tied at second with Northeastern and Hofstra, below top-seeded Delaware.