Before kickoff Thursday night, the College of William and Mary (10-5-3, 6-4-1 CAA) knew it controlled its CAA playoff fate. A win would ensure a spot in the six-team tournament, but a loss or tie would lead to anxious days watching out-of-town matches. Fortunately for the College, it took control of its destiny and sealed a CAA tourney berth with a trio of goals against Drexel University (6-7-6, 4-4-3 CAA). The game-winner came off the foot of junior defender Roger Bothe, who broke open the scoring with four seconds left in the first half.
Junior forward Price Thomas headlined the evening for the College, posting his fourth goal of the season and two assists. Meanwhile, sophomore goalkeeper Andrew McAdams kept the Dragons off the scoreboard with seven saves for his sixth shutout of the season.
Bothe’s tally before the first-half buzzer came off a blocked Thomas shot after junior midfielder Jeremy Harris split two midfielders to send the ball into the box. Bothe collected Thomas’s rebound and scorched the ball into the net for his first goal of the season.
“I thought we started slowly. We were a little bit tentative,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “My biggest concern in the first half was we weren’t getting forward very quickly from midfield [early on]. In the end, it was a couple of back players getting forward that caused the first goal.”
The goal gave the Tribe momentum despite being outshot 8-4 in the opening frame of a physical game, which saw 36 fouls and five yellow cards, on a wet Albert-Daly Field.
“[Coach] Norris told us at half that we had to go out and chase the second [goal],” Thomas said. “He told me especially to get at their right back, and [sophomore forward] Alan [Koger] had a great finish [on the second goal] on the back post, which set us apart.”
Thomas’s long run down the left sideline set up Koger’s goal. Thomas spun at the goal line and lofted the ball over to a darting Koger for his team-leading seventh goal of the season in the 49th minute.
The Tribe went ahead by three goals when Thomas took possession in the midfield and dribbled down the center of the pitch. The Dragons’ defenders gave Thomas space and he ripped a shot from about 25 yards out into the lower right portion of the cage past diving Drexel goalkeeper Cory Robertson.
The College’s defense also came to play Thursday, notching its third shutout in four matches. The Tribe’s stingy defense has allowed only one goal in its last 366 minutes of action.
“We were really solid out there [defensively],” Bothe said. “The last four games we have given up one goal. I am really excited that we have our sights set on winning the CAA Tournament.”
The Tribe’s tournament seed depends on today’s match between George Mason University and Old Dominion University. A Mason win would vault the Tribe to the second position and a first-round bye, while a Mason loss would push the College into a fourth-place finish.