Tribe wins season-opener against George Mason, 10-6

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Courtesy Photo / Tribe Athletics

William and Mary opened its season with a decisive 10-6 victory over George Mason at home Saturday, Feb 16.

The Tribe quickened the pace of the game almost immediately following the starting buzzer, led by an extremely aggressive offense.

Senior midfielder Olivia Harpel scored only eight minutes into the first half, and sophomore attacker Sophie Kopec scored shortly after that.

“[Sophie] played a great game, you know, it speaks for itself,” Fratzke said. “Somebody had to get her that ball, and then she had really great composure finishing her shots.”

The two early goals were a result of the sheer amount of time the College spent on the attack. The ball rarely crossed the field’s midline onto the Tribe’s half of the field. Besides the Patriots’ short-lived offensive efforts, the College’s attackers were primarily responsible for the early lead.

Freshman midfielder Isabella Martire scored yet another unassisted goal to make the score 3-0 Tribe with twenty minutes remaining in the first half.

The College’s energy began to wane after that, with intense attacks coming few and far between. The Patriots began to chip away at the Tribe’s defense, and the ball spent far more time on the College’s half of the field.

A goal from midfielder Abby Folker ended the Patriots’ scoring drought with fourteen minutes to go in the first half. Folker’s goal was followed almost immediately with a goal by midfielder Erin Donoghue, which brought the Patriots within one goal of the Tribe.

Attacker Deanna Balsama tied the score for the Patriots with ten minutes remaining in the half, and the Tribe called a timeout in an attempt to regroup.

Freshman midfielder Lauren Russel’s pivotal steal gave the Tribe momentum as the half wound down, and Martire scored again to put the Tribe up one six minutes before the half. However, attacker Morgan Rynn quickly evened things out for the Patriots, assisted by Balsama, who had a hand in almost every goal scored for the Patriots in the first half.

Midfielder Olivia O’Brien tacked on yet another goal for the Patriots, and the score going into the break was 5-4.

The second half was markedly quieter than the first, owing to more consistent defense from both sides and a slower but more persistent tempo on offense.

“That’s really been one of our focuses all preseason, is that you know, you can control the tempo of the game if you control your composure,” head coach Hillary Fratzke said. “And so once we just kind of talked to our attack … about making sure they were taking time to deliver simple passes, you know, I think that that changes the tempo a little bit, and we were able to get into a little bit more control.”

A goal by senior attacker Maddie Torgerson tied the score for the Tribe. The Patriots answered with a score of their own, and the Tribe responded in kind to tie things up at 6 with just under fifteen minutes left in the half.

As the second half continued to drag, a few key saves from junior goalkeeper Elsa Rall kept the Patriots offense quiet, and the College tacked on four more goals to make it 10-6, two of which came from Kopec who racked up four goals over the course of the game.

“[Sophie] played a great game, you know, it speaks for itself,” Fratzke said. “Somebody had to get her that ball, and then she had really great composure finishing her shots.”

After the Tribe’s season-opening win, it will take on Old Dominion, the first of three-straight intra-commonwealth matchups to start the year.