A first round loss in the 2007 CAA Tournament cut short the College of William and Mary’s season. Now the Tribe has higher expectations.
It’s been six years since the College’s last NCAA Tournament appearance and eight years since its most recent CAA title, but a roster mixing youth and experience, including eight of 11 returning starters from 2007, should allow the Tribe to build on last year’s 9-9-3 season.
“I think, realistically, this year we could potentially challenge for a CAA championship,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “If we do what I think we are capable of, we could put ourselves in position for an NCAA bid.”
The return of junior forward Andrew Hoxie — a 2006 All-CAA honoree who sat out due to personal reasons last season — should give the College additional firepower upfront.
“Andrew Hoxie is infinitely talented and I think has a career beyond college soccer,” Norris said. “We think he could have a huge impact for us. At this point it is up to him to follow through on that.”
Hoxie will join junior striker Price Thomas — a 2007 All-CAA player — on the attack, and the College will turn to them for offensive production.
Thomas tallied a point in seven consecutive games last season, finishing the year with a team-leading 17 points and seven goals. Hoxie, who scored 10 goals as a sophomore in 2006, will bolster a deep attacking front that includes sophomore Alan Koger and fifth-year senior Nathan Belcher. Koger, who recorded five goals and three assists as a freshman, earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team as a forward, but this season he’ll most likely see time on the backline due to his strong play in the air.
In the midfield, the Tribe will turn to the steady play of senior captain Doug McBride and the speed and youth of sophomore Nat Baako.
Last season’s team MVP, McBride is not afraid to do the dirty work that comes with winning loose balls and organizing the field, while Baako’s speed, agility and flashy footwork should give the College an offensive threat out of the midfield. Baako started all 21 games as a freshman and chipped in offensively with two assists.
“I feel like this is top to bottom the most talented group we have had in my five years here,” Norris said. “In every position we have one — if not two players — who can do a great job for us.”
One such player is sophomore goalkeeper and captain Andrew McAdams. In his first collegiate season he recorded eight shutouts, denied 85 percent of his opponents’ shot attempts and joined Koger on the conference all-rookie squad.
Sophomore Nicholas Orozco, who started all 21 matches as a freshman, anchors the College’s back line as the central defender, which Norris called the most demanding position. Junior Roger Bothe and returning starter sophomore Mike DiNuzzo join Orozco on defense. Meanwhile, sophomore Derek Buckley, freshman Andrew Mahan and Koger are battling for the fourth defender’s spot.
“We return the majority of our team defensively, and that was definitely a strength for us last year,” Norris said. “For us, the biggest challenge will be just trying to develop a winning mentality.”
The Tribe opens its season against the University of North Carolina—Greensboro tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Albert-Daly Field.