William and Mary called a timeout with eight minutes remaining in the first half, as the Tribe trailed the No. 5 Virginia Cavaliers by a 7-4 margin. The song of choice on the loudspeakers at Martin Family Stadium, aptly enough, was Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”
The College (4-5, 0-0 CAA) required far more than a prayer to pull off the upset, ultimately losing to its in-state rival by a 16-6 margin, losing control of what started as a competitive game.
“We competed really well in first half … defensively we were phenomenal,” head coach Hillary Fratzke said. “You play a team like U.Va, if you create a hole for yourself, they are going to capitalize on it.”
Off the opening whistle, the two teams matched up well, though U.Va (7-4, 1-2 ACC) claimed the first draw. Sophomore midfielder Shannon Quinn matched an early Cavalier goal with a free position shot ricocheting into the net at 26:35.
However, the Tribe momentum proved to be short-lived, as U.Va continued to dominate time of possession right from the draw, eventually finishing with a 17-7 draw advantage.
Despite rarely having a break due to Virginia’s high time of possession and crisp passing, the Tribe defense fought intensely early in the game, at one point facing five consecutive shots on a single possession. However, the Cavaliers found quick goals with passes from behind the net to the wings, and the Tribe trailed 3-1 six minutes in.
“We were pretty scrappy today [and] came up with groundballs and turnovers when we needed them,” senior defender Allison Henry said. “They were backdooring us pretty well … but we learned a lot about what we need to work on.”
The College offense relieved the defensive pressure with a goal of its own at 23:00 as freshman Abby Corkum rolled out behind the goal and located junior midfielder Zoe Boger breaking towards the net. Corkum launched a pass straight to Boger, who shot instantly on the run, providing the U.Va keeper with no chance to react.
Anticipation built as the Tribe trailed by a narrow 3-2 margin. The College scooped up the next contested draw control, but the offense wasted the rare first possession on a pass into heavy traffic at the crease.
“We struggled with keeping to the game plan,” Fratzke said. “We knew they were great inside and we still tried to feed it to the middle. When we were taking them one [versus] one, it was working.”
Sophomore goalie Alex Lista made a reflex save on a Virginia cross to the crease, but a Tribe turnover down the field led to a one-on-one fast break for the Cavaliers. U.Va didn’t miss, and the College’s deficit increased to two.
A defensive stand lasting over four minutes provided the Tribe with an opportunity to catch up, a chance gladly seized by Quinn. After drawing the slide, the Tribe attack rotated the ball quickly to find a quick chance to dodge in. Corkum caught a low pass at her shoelaces and managed to pass off to Quinn. With a one-on-one, Quinn juked out her defender and ducked under the slide for her second goal of the game. At 16:28, the Tribe was hanging on, down just 4-3.
However, teams ranked among the best in the nation are usually ranked for a reason. Virginia showed off its blazing speed and flawless passing in a textbook four-on-three fast break on the heels of a common clear for the fifth Cavalier goal. Most teams consider clearing the ball to midfield successful, but the Cavaliers routinely fired 30-yard passes to attacks for fast breaks just instants after playing defense.
Sophomore midfielder Lindsey Jenks took matters into her own hands, racing down the field after a U.Va penalty straight to the Cavalier net and slipping a shot past multiple oncoming defenders for a College goal at 12:51.
Once again, the Tribe trailed by just a point, converting four of five shots.
The upset bid then began to slip out of the College’s grasp. Virginia sent three more shots into the back of the College net to end the half; the Tribe only managed three shots to end the first down 8-4.
“We need to do a better job of not going rogue on ourselves,” Fratzke said. “They went on a six-goal run and … that was the moment we thought we had to do things on another level … we went outside of the discipline we needed.”
Out of the locker-room, the Cavaliers tacked on another goal with an attack cutting from the wing. Junior midfielder Michele Goss broke away from her defender on a spin move to add the College’s fifth goal three minutes into the second period.
The Cavaliers held the Tribe scoreless for the next ten minutes, adding five more points in that time. One of the lone bright spots of the game, Quinn completed her hat-trick with the usual ducking under defenders inside at 15:24. The game grinded to a close as U.Va began the running clock at 12:21 in the College’s 16-6 loss.
The Tribe faces another in-state foe as it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech Sunday at 1 p.m.