After opening the season with a 2-0 victory over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks at Martin Family Stadium, William and Mary traveled to Philadelphia Monday afternoon for its road-opener against the Villanova Wildcats. The Wildcats (2-0) also won their season-opener on Aug. 24, handing a 1-0 defeat to another Colonial Athletic Association opponent, Delaware. Twice in the match against the Wildcats, the College (1-1) fell behind before answering back to even the score. However, the Wildcats netted the match-winning goal in overtime to deal the Tribe its first loss of the 2018 campaign, 3-2.
Against the Wildcats, the College was unable to take an early lead like it did against Saint Joseph’s, and the match remained scoreless until the 30th minute. Midfielder Zach Zandi slotted home his second goal of the season from just outside of the 18-yard box, putting Villanova in front. Zandi’s goal was the first goal conceded by the Tribe and freshman goalkeeper Connor Andrews this season.
The College wasted no time in finding an equalizer, with senior forward Ryder Bell knotting the score at one apiece on a header in the 34th minute. Bell, a preseason All-CAA pick for the third consecutive year, received an assist from senior midfielder Antonio Bustamante. Neither team could score in the final 10 minutes of the opening frame, and the match went to halftime tied at 1-1.
In the second half, both teams had multiple opportunities to seize the lead and take control of the match, but neither goalkeeper allowed a go-ahead goal for the better part of the final 45 minutes. However, the Wildcats seemingly scored a match-winner in the 88th minute, with midfielder Yusuf Cueceoglu getting credit for the tally. Zandi assisted on the go-ahead goal, giving him a hand in the first three goals of the season for the Wildcats.
Nevertheless, the Tribe pushed numbers forward with desperation in the waning minutes of the match. In the 90th and final minute of regulation, Bell once again received a pass from Bustamante and beat goalkeeper Carson Williams to level the score at two. Not only was it Bell’s second goal of the afternoon, but it was Bustamante’s third assist of the young season. Bustamante, the CAA preseason player of the year, has been held scoreless through two matches, but has assisted on three of the Tribe’s four goals this season.
With neither team able to conjure up any more late-match magic, the match moved on to sudden death overtime. The College could not muster a single shot in the 5:59 of overtime. At the end of the 96th minute, the Wildcats grabbed the match-winning goal. Once again, Cueceoglu blasted the ball past Andrews off a feed from Zandi. Despite outshooting the Wildcats 17-15, the College never led and ultimately fell 3-2 in overtime.
The Tribe will have until Friday, Aug. 31 to recover from its first loss of the 2018 season. It will return to Williamsburg to take on third-ranked North Carolina at 7 P.M. The Tar Heels are also 1-1, with their lone loss was to defending national runner-up, Indiana. After the matchup with the Tar Heels, the College will play another Atlantic Coast Conference opponent Sept. 3 in Raleigh when it faces off against North Carolina State. The Tribe’s CAA title defense will begin later in the month on Sept. 14 at Martin Family Stadium against Charleston.