William and Mary lost its second straight decision Friday night, falling to Drexel 3-0 at a rain-drenched Martin Family Stadium. With the loss, the College falls to 0-1-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play and 2-6-2 overall.
The match was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., but the weather had other ideas. Lightning and rain were the twin culprits of an hour-and-a-half delay. While the weather was bleak, the Tribe’s performance did little to brighten the mood.
Head coach Chris Norris was blunt about his struggling team after the game.
“The big problem for us right now is that we don’t know how to compete and to be intense,” he said. “At times, we were just content to sit back and hit the ball backwards and sideways. I mean, I don’t think we even had one offsides.”
After the clouds parted and the storm passed, the game was a messy affair with both teams playing very tentatively on the soggy field. The first 30 minutes of the game were marked by numerous errant passes and few scoring chances from both sides. Junior midfielder Chris Perez registered the first shot on goal in the 25th minute, but it was cleanly saved by Drexel goalkeeper Tim Washam.
The game started to get out of hand just after the first half hour of play as Drexel scored on a nifty penalty kick right outside the box. The penalty was given after a questionable tripping call on sophomore midfielder Marcus Luster that raised the ire of Norris. Drexel forward Pena Guido tapped the ball to a partner who passed it right back, setting Guido up for a shot that that made its way through the defenders and past sophomore goalie Bennett Jones.
Trouble defending set-pieces was the theme of the match for the Tribe as their typically solid defense broke down repeatedly on penalty kicks.
“We had watched some tape of their set pieces and stuff earlier in the week,” junior defender Roshan Patel said. “But we were just a step slower on everything today. I think it was more a mental thing than anything else.”
Besides the penalty kick goal, the first half was a relatively even affair with neither team generating much real offensive. Going into the second half down one, a potential victory seemed to be fully within the College’s grasp.
But that hope was effectively dashed less than ten minutes into the second half when Drexel scored on yet another penalty kick right outside the box. This time the goal involved less trickery as Drexel midfielder John Grosh simply lined it up and sent a scorcher past Jones and the rest of the Tribe’s bewildered defense.
“They had two very well-executed free kicks and those sorts of goals change games,” Norris said.
The College then opened up their offense much more after Drexel’s second goal. In contrast to the Tribe offense’s anemic two-shot performance in the first half, it was able to notch 16 shots in the final 45 minutes. However, out of those 16 shots, only a few were on real scoring chances.
Throughout the game, the Tribe offense relied upon long balls to generate opportunities. But this tactic did not create very many chances since many of the deep passes were off-target.
“There’s a bit of an emphasis on deep passes right now because we have been too far in the other direction,” Norris said. “We’ve been not even looking to play forward passes, we’ve been content to play the ball sideways and backwards and it was more of a way to try to establish an aggressive mentality.”
Adding insult to injury, Drexel scored again in the 89th minute on a breakaway when the outcome of the game was already painfully apparent.
The Tribe plays North Carolina-Wilmington in Williamsburg this Wednesday, looking to bounce back from Friday’s stormy defeat.