After six years without a postseason berth, the College of William and Mary returns to campus fervently hoping for a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Tribe Head Coach Peel Hawthorne and her 18 returning players enter the fall season with a desire to make amends for last year’s 9-10 record.
“I think anyone who comes to our games would notice our intensity,” Hawthorne said. “They would be able to see we want it badly. We want to win, we practice to win and we’re willing to take it to the wire.”
The Tribe will ‘take it to the wire’ with many of the same players as last season. Senior forward Lauren Giles, junior midfielder Wesley Drew and sophomore midfielder Jenna Cinalli return to a Tribe attack that scored 37 goals last season — four more than its opponents.
On defense, senior Katie Broaddus, sophomore Maura Checchio and junior Courtney Farino return to a Tribe backline that allowed 33 goals and 116 shots on goal last year.
Giles, one of only three seniors on the team, says the team’s familiarity with each other creates cohesion that will be a key strength for the Tribe this season.
“A difference from last year and this year is I really feel a connection with the team, and I think that’s probably one of the most important things to do well as a team and get back to the NCAAs,” said Giles.
The Tribe will face multiple challenges on its road back to the NCAA tournament. The College has five preseason nationally ranked opponents on its schedule and must replace Gwen Hunter, a four-year starter at goalkeeper.
However, senior defender Kaitlin Johnson says the team’s commitment to each other and their leave nothing approach will help them face up to those challenges.
“We give it our all; we never leave anything back. We play as one,” Johnson said.
The Tribe faces its first test today when it takes on no. 11 University of Virginia at 2 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. Last year the College fell 2-1 to the Cavaliers on the road.