Between a goal called back for offsides and a penalty kick over the crossbar, William and Mary (4-2) blew several critical scoring opportunities and fell asleep on defense at the wrong times in a 3-1 home loss to Wisconsin (5-1) Sunday afternoon.
The Tribe defense looked a step or two slower from the start, and Wisconsin made it pay almost immediately. In the 10th minute, the College fell into a 1-0 hole on a frustrating goal to give up. A low, slow cross found its way into the box and was buried home underneath sophomore goalkeeper Katelyn Briguglio.
After the goal, the Tribe woke up and started to maintain possession in the defending half of the field. Almost immediately, the Tribe scored what appeared to be the equalizer as junior midfielder Mackenzie Kober struck a powerful shot past the Wisconsin goalkeeper Caitlyn Clem. However, the 13th-minute strike was called back for offsides.
Just nine minutes later, with Wisconsin on the attack again, the Badgers pushed the lead to 2-0 on a header in which the Tribe defense was nearly entirely out of the picture.
“Really a very poor first 25-35 minutes. Just a really poor performance. We let the players know that,” head coach John Daly said. “Defensively awful, giving the ball away, one v one defending, everything was just shocking.”
The teams traded attacks for the majority of the first half, with each defense tested frequently, but not too much work was needed from the goalkeepers. In the 40th minute, the Tribe broke through. Sprinting down the right sideline, sophomore forward Sully Boulden evaded two Wisconsin defenders before crossing the ball to a cutting Kober, who stayed onside this time and blasted the ball into the net to cut the deficit to 2-1.
“She played a great ball diagonally across me, and I just stayed calm because I knew I had to finish it for her and the rest of the team in order to get us back on that scoreboard and get everyone motivated,” Kober said.
To start the second half, the Tribe looked crisp, passing the ball and making an effort to compete with the taller Wisconsin players.
Defensively awful, giving the ball away, one v one defending, everything was just shocking.”
However, the Badgers took an insurmountable 3-1 lead in the 55th minute when they scored on a free kick from outside the box. Freshman forward Lauren Rice sent a high, slow shot toward the net, which went directly to Briguglio, who let the ball pass through her hands and into the back of the net.
“She’s [Briguglio’s] been playing very well, but today she was poor,” Daly said.
The College kept fighting despite the deficit, led by several strong plays from senior forward Elysse Branton. After juking past three different Wisconsin defenders, Branton earned a penalty kick in the 67th minute after being tackled in the box. However, senior forward Rachel Moore sent the penalty kick over the bar to basically end any chance of a Tribe comeback.
“Elysse has been brilliant every day,” Daly said. “She gives everything she’s got. If another six or seven players had given half as much as she gave, we would’ve won that game.”
Kober led the team with three shots on goal, and Briguglio finished with two important first-half saves to prevent the Wisconsin lead from getting out of hand.
The Tribe hits the road for two straight games, first at Maryland Thursday at 7 p.m. and then at DePaul Sunday at 2 p.m. In the former, the College looks to avenge its loss from last season.
“Losing to Maryland last year and playing them at home, we’re really excited to go back there and fight again,” Kober said.