For the past two seasons, the scene has been the same: William and Mary dejected as Towson celebrates on Albert Daly Field, having eliminated the Tribe from the postseason.
When the No. 11 Tigers (8-3, 2-1 CAA) return to Williamsburg this Sunday, it is only natural to assume that the No. 20 Tribe (7-5, 1-1 CAA) has revenge on its mind. Head Coach Christine Halfpenny would disagree, however.
“With a game on Friday [against Delaware], we’re not really focused on Towson,” Halfpenny said. “We’re focused on ourselves, on taking the things we have learned early on in the season and put it together. It’s not revenge — we just want to keep getting better.”
Still, Towson has ended the Tribe’s season for the last two years. While not a directly motivating factor, Halfpenny said she believes the experience has helped her upperclassmen mature.
“Definitely the junior and senior classes have been great,” Halfpenny said. “It’s been nice to see them lead us into CAA play. We were definitely disappointed with the result against Hofstra [a 15-7 Tribe loss] where we were hurt most by goals against and ground balls. But we came back the next game against Drexel and were great in those categories, and the juniors and seniors were a big part of that.”
The upperclassmen might have to be even better Sunday against Towson. The Tigers rank ninth nationally in caused turnovers per game, 11th in draw controls per game and 17th in goals per game.
The Tigers are one of four CAA teams, including the Tribe, ranked among the top 25 teams in the country. James Madison is ranked 10th in the nation, while Hofstra is ranked 16th.
“I’ve always said the CAA has been one of the toughest conferences, top to bottom, in the country,” Halfpenny said. “There is no one who will just roll over. Every team is fighting extremely hard for that automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.”
The past two seasons, Towson has received that berth by winning the CAA tournament at the end of the season. The Tigers knocked off the Tribe both times on its way to the conference title, including last season’s 15-10 win.
The College had beaten Towson 12-9 in Baltimore earlier in the season, making the loss more heartbreaking. But the Tribe has not been able to beat the Tigers at home, not since a 14-13 win in 2008.
The Tigers were ranked 15th in the country when the College pulled off the upset two years ago. But in an injury-marred season in which the Tribe has been forced to assemble starting lineups on the fly, Halfpenny is minimizing expectations for her team.
“We want to put our best possible game together on Friday night,” Halfpenny said. “Then we want to take what we learned on Friday night and put together our best possible game against a fast, aggressive Towson team on Sunday, so that we can put it all together for the CAA tournament.”