With the College of William and Mary’s (4-5) normal home at Albert-Daly Field flooded Saturday, the Tribe’s afternoon contest against no. 15 Penn State University (5-4) was moved to Busch Turf Field. With the speed of play at an all-time high on the green carpet, momentum built from the opening face-off, shifting between the two sides before the Nittany Lions eventually outlasted the Tribe 14-12.
The College got off to a quick first half start, opening up an early 4-2 lead within the first ten minutes.
Senior midfielder Clare Dennis and sophomore midfielder Grace Golden scored two goals each in the first half. All four were unassisted and resulting from outstanding individual moves used to reach scoring position.
Despite holding advantages over Penn State in shots (28-24), ground balls (24-18) and turnovers (12-22), the Tribe’s actual offensive output failed to live up to its statistical advantage. After Golden tallied the second of her three goals at 20:45 in the first half, the visitors went on a five-goal rally that gave them a commanding 7-4 lead at the half. The lead came despite emphatic orders from Head Coach Christine Halfpenny to move the ball and generate an opportunity to score.
“[Penn State] wanted it more,” Halfpenny said. “They had sharp team play while we had sharp individual play.”
The second half gave new life to the Tribe, as the Nittany Lions continued to struggle with turnovers. With the team finally beginning to move the ball around, the three-goal deficit was eventually erased. The effort was capped by a thrilling two-on-one breakaway when senior attacker Julia Martin tore up the field with sophomore attacker Ashley Holofcener flanked wide on her left.
Pulling the Penn State defender to her by veering right, Martin quickly passed to Holofcener, who subsequently fired a shot past Nittany Lion goalkeeper Stephanie Ellis to tie the game at ten.
However, the goals that made the difference in the game were from free position shots. Both teams had five attempts, but Penn State was able to find the back of the net four times compared to the College’s two.
“Our shooting was really what cost us the game,” Halfpenny said.
Although Dennis (three goals) and Golden (three goals, one assist) lead the Tribe in scoring with 21 goals each, Saturday was not the day for assists. Only four players recorded one assist each. The Lions had only five aided goals.
With their non-conference schedule out of the way, the Tribe will face Towson University in Towson, Md. Friday at 7 p.m. It will be a rematch of last year’s CAA Tournament final, at which the Tigers commanded the tempo for the entire 60 minutes en route to a 16-7 victory.
“We’ve said we’re ready [to play tougher opponents],” Dennis said. “Now, we just need to put it into play.”