After its first conference loss of the season and a double overtime defeat against Virginia, William and Mary picked up a win in its final regular season game, beating James Madison 5-4 in overtime. With that win, the Tribe avoided entering the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on a three-game losing streak. Of the seven teams in the CAA, four teams qualified for the conference tournament: Delaware, the College, Northeastern, and James Madison. The Tribe went 5-1 in the CAA in the regular season, with its lone loss coming against top-seeded Delaware. In the first semifinal, the Blue Hens fell behind early but cruised to an 8-1 win to make the CAA championship for the seventh consecutive year. The Blue Hens are the five-time defending conference champion. In the second semifinal, the Tribe (10-7, 6-1 CAA) scored late in both halves and used a strong defensive effort to hold off the Huskies (8-11, 4-3 CAA) and claim a 2-0 victory to advance to Sunday’s championship game.
Thursday, prior to the semifinal round, the CAA released its annual postseason awards. A program record eight players for the Tribe were recognized. In her sixth season at the helm, head coach Tess Ellis won her third CAA coach of the year award. She previously received this honor in 2013 and 2014. Headlining the award-winning players was junior midfielder Christie van de Kamp. She was named defensive player of the year and first team All-CAA along with senior midfielder Estelle Hughes. The College also had a trio of juniors on second team All-CAA with midfielders Annie Snead and Cassidy Goodwin and forward Woodard Hooper receiving that honor. Another three athletes were selected for the All-CAA rookie team, including Co-Rookie of the year, freshman goalkeeper Kimi Jones. She was joined on the All-CAA rookie team by freshmen midfielders Jorja Morgan and Cara Menges.
In the semifinals, which were hosted by top-seed Delaware, the second game started out slowly with neither team registering a shot on goal until just over 11 minutes had run off the clock. The College nearly broke through with its second penalty corner of the game with a little more than 20 minutes remaining in the opening half. Snead took the penalty corner and found Goodwin at the top of the circle. Goodwin weaved through a couple defenders before firing a shot towards goal. However, the shot skidded just wide of the left post. The College continued to dominate possession around the midway point of the half, as Menges side-stepped multiple defenders and ripped a shot towards the center of the cage. Goaltender Julia Gluyas was able to react quickly and deflect Menges’ shot away from the net. The College’s momentum was halted after a green card was issued to Estelle Hughes. In the next few minutes, the Huskies held a majority of the possession and were able to get off their second shot of the afternoon. However, forward June Curry-Lindahl’s attempt was blocked, preventing the Huskies from tallying their first shot on goal.
As the clock crept under the 10-minute mark, both teams traded unsuccessful penalty corners. After the Tribe had a shot saved off of its penalty corner, the Huskies were able to clear the ball and start a breakaway. Just seconds later, the Huskies thought they had seized a 1-0 advantage, but the goal was nullified by the officials. Despite nearly conceding the first goal of the game, the College responded with several scoring chances at the other end. After three penalty corners in as many minutes did not produce a goal, the Tribe finally capitalized on its seventh penalty corner of the first half. With just over two minutes to play until halftime, Goodwin took the penalty corner, finding van de Kamp. She pushed the ball to the right of the circle where Hughes blasted a shot past Gluyas for the first goal of the game. Neither team was able to score again before halftime and the Tribe maintained its 1-0 lead going into the half. The College had all six of the shots on goal in the first half and seven penalty corners compared to the Huskies’ two. This was a complete reversal of the regular season matchup when the Tribe claimed a 3-2 road win in overtime, despite not earning a single penalty corner.
In the second half, the first three minutes were fairly uneventful but in the 39th minute, the ball trickled by the Huskies’ defense and Hooper was able to track it down near the net, but she could not create a scoring opportunity. A couple minutes later, the Huskies were able to fire a dangerous cross in front of the goal, but none of their forwards were able to put a stick on the ball to redirect it on goal. The Huskies still had not registered a shot on goal as the clock wound down under 30 minutes to play. Jones was forced into her first save in the 44th minute. Forward Melanie Weber flicked a shot on frame, but Jones cut off the angle and padded the shot away from danger. After their first shot on goal, the Huskies found another gear and started to take control of the game. After not having to come up with a save for nearly 45 minutes, Jones had to make another save less than three minutes later, with the College clinging to a one-goal edge.
As the Huskies became more desperate for an equalizing goal, the game started to get more hectic and chippy. Both teams received green and yellow cards in the second half as the game entered its final 15 minutes. With 13:30 left to play, the College earned its first penalty corner of the second half. Hughes ended up with the ball on her stick, but her shot flew wide right of the cage as she tried for her second goal of the game. The game, which had started at 3:45 due to approaching inclement weather, began to be affected by rain starting late in the second half. The Huskies earned a penalty corner with under eight minutes to play, but Menges blocked the shot attempt, preserving the 1-0 lead. In the final eight minutes, the Huskies were unable to create another scoring chance, as the Tribe held most of the possession and had multiple penalty corners. On the 10th penalty corner of the game with under one minute remaining, Snead put the ball in play, finding Hooper who knocked the ball into the goal to clinch the victory. It was Hooper’s 11th goal of the season and gave the College a 2-0 victory.
Sunday, the College will play in its second-straight CAA championship game after last making it in 2002 before its appearance in 2017. Just like last year, the Tribe will be tasked with facing conference-leading and five-time defending champion, Delaware. The Blue Hens blanked the Tribe in the title game last season, 3-0. However, the College played the Blue Hens much closer in their one meeting this season, with the Blue Hens using a late insurance goal to propel them to a 4-2 victory at Busch Field. The championship game is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday at Delaware, with an automatic berth in the National Collegiate Athletic Association on the line.