Men’s soccer: Tribe falls to Coastal Carolina, 2-0

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

Despite a number of chances early on, a short-handed William and Mary (2-4) fell to No. 24 Coastal Carolina (4-1) Friday, 2-0. The Tribe dominated possession and shots, but couldn’t convert to take control of the game. Meanwhile, the physical Chanticleers wore the College down as the game went on, eventually scoring two late goals to claim the win.

“We were a little thin, personnel-wise,” head coach Chris Norris said. “We’re missing five starters from [the beginning of the season] … To have six juniors and seniors that essentially weren’t available to us, it made us very thin, and I think we got worn down a little bit. For some of these freshmen, the intensity of these games, especially against top-25 level competition, is very high.”

In a fast-paced yet scoreless first half, both goaltenders came up big for their respective teams. Connor Andrews made a nice save early in the game, but the Tribe kept the pressure on Coastal Carolina for most of the half. Less than seven minutes in, senior forward Ryder Bell fired the first shot of the game, forcing Chanticleers keeper Chris Datallo to dive to his right to deflect the ball away. Datallo would continue to keep the Tribe off the scoreboard, making three more saves over the course of the half, including two separate free kicks by senior forward Antonio Bustamante.

It wasn’t just Datallo that denied the College a lead in the first frame. The Tribe missed a number of opportunities to break through. After Cole Smith’s shot was blocked out of play in the 25th minute, Bustamante found Bell on the ensuing corner. Bell’s header grazed right by the top right corner of the frame as it went out of play for a goal kick.

Just 11 minutes later, Bustamante made a chance out of nothing, beating two Chanticleer defenders. His chip shot beat the goaltender, but not the crossbar. It would bounce harmlessly away from the goal.

The most controversial play of the game came less than five minutes before the end of the period. Bustamante drove down the right-hand side of the pitch and found redshirt junior forward Cole Smith streaking into the box. Finding himself open, Smith placed a header to the far left of the goal. The touch beat Datallo but the ball ricocheted off the post, bouncing along the goal line before getting cleared by the Chanticleers keeper. The Tribe celebrated as if it scored, but the assistant referee ruled the ball did not cross the line, causing an uproar among the home squad.

“Obviously, had we scored the one that came off the post and then off the goalkeeper, that would have changed things,” Norris said. “Those sort of things help you when you are starting to tire a little bit. If you’ve got a goal and you’re ahead, those kind of things can change things.”

The Tribe controlled the pace of the half, notching 10 shots to Coastal Carolina’s four, but the pace of the game got sloppier and chippy as it went on. 16 total fouls were called in the stanza, while two yellow cards were shown to Coastal Carolina.

“Some teams will try different things to disrupt the flow or rhythm,” Bustamante said. “But overall, I felt like they felt a little threatened when they got a few yellows just because they couldn’t take any chances … They did disrupt the flow and rhythm of the game, and that probably affected our overall performance.”

The second half, however, would swing in the Chanticleers favor. While sophomore defender Sam Golan would save a potential own-goal off the line, the Tribe couldn’t keep Coastal Carolina off the scoreboard forever. In the 78th minute, a Chanticleers flurry became the first score of the game when Coastal Carolina forward Yazeed Matthews finally put home a shot following multiple rebound shots.

“Towards the end of the game, I felt like we had a couple of times where the ball was put out to the back, and we were counted on directly,” Andrews said. “But overall, I think the game was lost in heart.”

With time running out on the Tribe, it came up with a couple of scoring chances that nearly tied the game. In the 86th minute, Bustamante found junior forward Reeves Trott in the box with a cross. Trott won the header but put the ball well wide of the net. A minute later, Bustamante created his own chance to tie the game on a shot that barely missed the target.

In the 89th minute, all hope remaining for the Tribe was snuffed out when the College scored an own-goal on an unfortunate bounce off a defender. Coastal Carolina would ride out the last minute of play to secure a 2-0 victory.

Despite a loss, Bustamante had a solid performance. The senior tallied five shots, including two on goal.
“I felt like in the second half I could have done a little more,” Bustamante said. “In the first half, I was really dangerous. Overall, I just need to be more consistent in the long run throughout the game. But I felt like I had a pretty good performance.”

After this defeat, the Tribe will move on to conference play, taking on Elon next Wednesday on the road. The College hopes this game will be a learning experience for some of the younger players forced to take a larger role.

“I think we take the effort, the performance, certainly the experience gained by a lot of the younger guys,” Norris said. “The older guys will certainly trust those guys in critical situations. This is a good program, a good team, a consistent top-25 team, and to know the difference in the game was basically a couple of bounces … I think we’ll take a lot of positives away from this as long as we can stay focused on the plan and stay committed to working hard for one another.”