After heading into the 2010 season searching for scorers to fill the void left by the graduation of several key attacking players, William and Mary (3-0) appeared to find a solution to that problem this weekend.
The College defeated West Virginia 2-1 on Friday and downed Rhode Island 4-0 on Sunday in Norfolk to claim the ODU/Stihl Soccer Classic title. It is the second time in the past three seasons the Tribe has won the tournament.
“It was definitely a good weekend for us,” Head Coach Chris Norris said. “We won earlier in the week against Loyola, and I thought there were a lot of areas we needed to improve on. I think this weekend, the two teams, Rhode Island and West Virginia, are two good teams and presented significant challenges for us. I thought we improved from the Loyola game, and our performances were much sharper and we got two good wins.”
Offensively, senior forward Ryan Snyder led the way for the College, totaling three goals — including one against the Mountaineers and two against the Rams — and one assist over the course of the tournament. His play led him to be named tournament MVP and National Player of the Week by Top Drawer Soccer.
Senior goalkeeper Andrew McAdams was also strong for the College. McAdams amassed five saves, and allowing just one goal over the weekend.
“[McAdams] was very solid,” Norris said. “He had a lot to do with our win at Loyola. He was dealing with crosses this weekend, maybe a little less to do with shot stopping, but a very solid performance. It was the kind of performance we need from a guy who has been around and is a senior captain. He wasn’t really called upon to win those games for us, but he did every thing that he had to do. We needed that sort of weekend from him.”
The Tribe was led by the steady play of senior midfielder Nat Baako, who scored the tying goal in the College’s come-from-behind win against West Virginia Friday.
Although Baako did not contribute huge statistics against West Virginia, his leadership and willingness to be a team player was certainly on display.
“We asked him to do a different job than he has done before against West Virginia on Friday,” Norris said. “They have an attacking right back that we rate pretty highly, and we asked Nat to play left winger for us to neutralize their back … He also scored the game tying goal for us, and that was huge.”
Despite an undefeated start and the emergence of new scoring threats, Tribe players and coaches alike said they are aware that some of their toughest tasks lie ahead.
“We are happy to be 3-0,” Norris said. “It was not the easiest start to play three games on the road in a neutral setting against three good opponents and programs that are pretty rich in tradition. We were not always certain where our goals would come from after the graduation of some key attacking players, but we thought that some of the players who were in the shadows last year could step up and have a big year, and so far they have gotten off to a good start.”