Energized by a morale-boosting 3-0 victory over Richmond last weekend, William and Mary (1-2-1) fought tooth-and-nail Saturday against No. 12 St. John’s (5-0-1) in Queens, but the Tribe eventually succumbed to a 2-1 loss.
Sophomore Marcus Luster notched his first collegiate goal in the 69th minute amidst a flurry of late offensive activity for the Tribe. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome a shoddy first half in which the Tribe’s normally steady defense surrendered two goals.
“I’m not satisfied at all,” head coach Chris Norris said. “I’m disappointed in myself in terms of not having prepared the team well enough; I’m disappointed that we as a group gave them as much respect as we did. … What I am satisfied in is that we went on the road and played a team like St. John’s, because they will be in many ways one of the most difficult teams we will play, or anyone will play, this year.”
The first half was a one-sided affair with the Red Storm slipping two goals past sophomore goalkeeper Bennett Jones, while the Tribe was outshot 13-3. Red Storm freshman Danny Bedoya scored in the 39th minute and junior Jack Bennett scored right before halftime on an impressive penalty kick.
“They pressed us with their front five players and instead of recognizing that and being more direct and trying to find our front players and then trying to possess the ball in the attacking half, we persisted to try to play a lot of short stuff out of the back and didn’t get any rhythm on the attacking side of the ball,” Norris said.
The only genuine scoring chance in the first 45 minutes of play for the College was from sophomore Chris Perez, but it was cleanly swatted away by Red Storm goalkeeper Rafael Diaz. Noticeably outclassed in the first half both on the scoreboard and all around the pitch, Norris’ squad seemed to take advantage of the intermission as it came out with a renewed spirit.
After a demoralizing first half, the second was far more fruitful for the College.
Reversing the Red Storm’s utter domination of scoring chances through the first 45 minutes, the Tribe generated ten scoring chances to St. John’s five in the final 45. Marcus Luster broke through in the 69th minute, propelling the ball to the back of the net on a dizzying header set up by senior Ben Anderson’s deft corner kick. The goal marked Luster’s first goal in his collegiate career and Anderson’s second assist of the season.
“Marcus was a factor in the game, scored a goal, and had another great chance,” Norris said. “We moved him around a lot in the game; he played three positions. Marcus is just a very steady, conscientious, talented guy and is capable of playing anywhere on the field for us.”
Reinvigorated by Luster’s set-piece heroics, the Tribe launched an extensive offensive campaign that generated numerous half-chances and near misses but no goals. In the last minute of play, the College had two corner chances in the offensive third but was unable to convert either against St. Johns’ potent defense, making the 2-1 score final.
Norris, whose team faces Drake in Omaha, Neb. Friday, maintained a positive outlook going forward.
“Whether you win or lose, playing a team like that, you’re always going to learn a lot about your team,” Norris said. “I hope we can learn a lot from Saturday night and become more the team we want to be.”