Critics could have doubted that William and Mary would rebound after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Drexel that officially disqualified it from the CAA tournament Friday, but any such thoughts were quickly dispelled when William and Mary fought to an 8-7 overtime victory over Hofstra.
“We weren’t thinking about the tournament. We just wanted to get a win for our seniors, who were playing their last game,” head coach Brooke Ireland said.
The win was largely a culmination of the Tribe’s improving defense that allowed just six goals over the first 60 minutes of play. Freshman goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson fittingly capped off an impressive freshman campaign with a career-high 23 saves.
Indeed, the game would have gotten out of hand early if not for Ferguson’s steady hand in goal. The Pride dominated possession in the first half, which culminated in 18 shots on goal to the Tribe’s six. However, because of Ferguson’s quick reflexes and mental awareness, only one lonesome Hofstra shot found the back of the net in the first half.
“Our defense played amazingly,” Ireland said. “They really stepped up to the plate. I saw some great communication out there from them. And Lucy Ferguson, with 23 saves — she had a tremendous game.”
Junior midfielder Caitlin Murphy notched the Tribe’s first goal a mere minute into the game. Two minutes later, Hofstra equalized the score as attacker Claire Brady zinged one by Ferguson, a sight that would prove elusive over the course of the game.
The feverish scoring pace set by the first two goals did not, in the end, reflect the nature of the low-scoring match. After letting in Brady’s score, Ferguson morphed into a virtual wall and did not allow a single goal for the rest of the half. The Tribe offense capitalized on the staunch play of their defensive counterparts, building a 3-1 lead going into halftime with goals from senior attacker Stephanie Steinweg and sophomore attacker Taelor Salmon.
The Tribe came out tenaciously in the second half as junior midfielder Brett Hayes scored on a free position opportunity a minute into the half. Playing in the last game of their collegiate careers, senior attacker Maggie Anderson and senior midfielder Jenny Michael both notched goals to bring the Tribe lead to 6-2 with 15 minutes remaining.
The lead seemed to be decisive with Ferguson jealously guarding the net, but Hofstra was not ready to cave in. The Pride scored four straight goals to close out regulation and force overtime. Attacker Maryann Miller tallied a hat trick during the stretch which placed the momentum of the game firmly on the shoulders of her teammates. In a tense moment, Hofstra attacker Alex Mezzanotte flung the ball on net for a potential game-winner in the last few seconds of regulation, but Ferguson deftly corralled it away from its target, ushering in another Tribe overtime match.
The Tribe attackers were reborn in the first minute of overtime as both junior attacker Krystin Mackrides and Caitlin Murphy rattled off successive goal strikes. But, fittingly, it was Ferguson who was the most dominant player on the field, surrendering just one goal in overtime, while saving two, to lead the Tribe to a rousing victory to end the season.
A season that was once so full of unspoiled potential was largely lost during the Tribe’s nine-game losing streak that lasted all of March and half of April. However, there were several bright spots that the team can tout going into next year, many of which were on full display Sunday, including the remarkable progression of freshman goaltender Lucy Ferguson and the scintillating play of Mackrides and Salmon, who notched 32 and 31 goals respectively.
“We have a lot of talent,” Ireland said. “A lot of talent, and if you don’t look at the win-loss column, our team improved very much over this season. They adjusted very well to the coaching changes, and we’re excited to see what these players can do in the coming years.”