In the 109th minute of the match against Longwood, William and Mary senior forward Antonio Bustamante stood over the ball just outside the eighteen, waiting for the referee to blow the whistle. Last season, Bustamante led the Colonial Athletic Association in goals with 15 in 21 games. Heading into his final season at the College, expectations for the forward were sky high, as Bustamante was voted CAA preseason player of the year and picked up a number of All-America honors before the season. However, over the past four-plus games, he had accumulated a grand total of zero tallies.
The shrill of the whistle pierced the humid Williamsburg air. Bustamante took three quick steps, planted his left foot and placed a shot perfectly: past the wall of Longwood players, past the outstretched arm of the Longwood keeper and into the bottom right corner of the net. Bustamante took off toward the sideline, his teammates joining him to celebrate a 3-2 golden-goal victory for the Tribe (2-3) over the Lancers (2-3).
“Antonio [Bustamante] with a free kick around the area is such a threat that we feel like it’s at least a 50-50 proposition for us, and he stuck that one away,” head coach Chris Norris said to Tribe Athletics. “It was good for him to get his first goal tonight. He’s been our leader in shots. We talked about him trying to get a few more shots on target; he hasn’t been missing by much.”
For most of the night, it looked like the College would not have a chance to break its three-game losing streak. Longwood struck first less than five minutes in, as midfielder Sherif Maalouf took advantage of a turnover by the Tribe inside its own box. Before the half was over, the Lancers struck once again when midfielder Josh Hanratty made no mistake with a penalty in the 39th minute.
“I thought our start was a little bit poor,” Norris said to Tribe Athletics. “We didn’t necessarily have the right focus. We made some mistakes early on that led to the first goal, and it rattled us a little bit. You know, goals have a tendency to change games. We knew it was a bad goal to give up. … I thought that led to a continuation in the first half of us looking around and questioning who we are and whether we would be able to get back into the game.”
The College would open the second half much stronger, controlling possession. However, the Tribe could not break through until the 86th minute. After a corner, the ball bounced around the box before finding its way to the Tribe’s leading goal-scorer, senior forward Ryder Bell. From out in front, Bell hit a left-footed shot to the short side of the net, notching his fourth goal of the year and cutting the deficit to 2-1 with less than five minutes to play in regulation.
“Like I said, goals change games, so to get that first one is huge,” Norris said to Tribe Athletics. “We would have liked to have done it with a lot more time on the clock, but it puts doubt in the other team’s mind — it gave us momentum tonight. Ryder [Bell]’s been coming up big for us.”
The Tribe’s chances still looked bleak, but not for long. Only a minute later, Bustamante took a pass from freshman midfielder John Andrew Eskay and sent a cross into the box that found the forehead of sophomore back Sam Golan. Golan directed it to the left side of the net, leaving the goalkeeper motionless. The score would send the game to overtime, allowing for Bustamante’s game-winning penalty shot.
After the College’s comeback victory, it will travel to Maryland Sunday to visit the Terrapins. The Tribe’s matchup against CAA foe Charleston, originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed due to Hurricane Florence. The rescheduled date will be announced at a later date.