With only last-place Drexel positioned between William and Mary and its already secured no. 2 seed in the CAA Tournament, the typical ‘trap’ game unfolded. The Dragons (5-12-1, 1-9-1 CAA) entered the match having given up the most goals in the conference while netting the third fewest. But the Tribe (13-4-1, 8-2-1 CAA) overlooked its opponents lowly credentials, pressing through a shaky first half before notching two second half goals en route to a 3-1 regular season finale victory in Philadelphia Friday night.
“I thought it was a very average [performance],” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “But the good thing is that this is a team that still has enough fire power and experience to win a game when we aren’t at the top of our game … and that is a good position to be in.”
Junior midfielder Nat Baako gave the College a 2-1 lead in the 78th minute. Baako’s goal materialized off the strong individual performance of freshman midfielder Chris Perez, who drew Drexel keeper Alex Reber out of the net before sliding the ball to Baako for the finishing touch.
The victory extends the College’s current unbeaten streak to six matches, as the squad has gone 5-0-1 in that span.
The Tribe struggled through a sloppy first half in which Drexel held an 11-8 shot advantage. Specifically, Drexel’s 4-3-3 caused personnel issues for the College throughout much of the opening frame.
“They played with three in the middle and were very active and mobile,” Norris said. “It wasn’t anything that we hadn’t seen. Our guys just didn’t solve problems very well. We didn’t communicate, and as a result, they were able to have a lot of possession.”
Senior midfielder Price Thomas gave the Tribe the early lead in the eighth minute off of a feed from senior forward Andrew Hoxie. After Hoxie slipped the ball through Drexel’s defense, Thomas rolled a low shot past Reber for his seventh goal of the season.
“I felt like we weren’t that sharp to start with, and I thought, ‘this is going to be the worst thing possible for us,’” Norris said of his team’s early lead. “It was going to be easy for us to overlook Drexel. And I think they were all trying to stay focused, but when we got the early goal we definitely took our foot off the gas a little bit, and we felt like it was going to be easy, and it wasn’t. Drexel played very well, and for the first half they were the better team.”
The Dragons evened the score in the 29th minute off a 25-yard blast from Nathan Page. The score remained level at 1-1 for the next 49 minutes before Baako’s second goal of the year.
Hoxie added his CAA-leading 10th goal of the season in the 84th minute to seal the 3-1 margin. The senior also leads the CAA in assists with 10.
Next up for the College is the CAA Tournament, which will be held at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington for the second consecutive year. The Tribe’s opening opponent Friday night is Northeastern.