Men’s Soccer: One Save Short

Despite the loss, Tuesday night’s match drew more nuanced conclusions. Before giving up a game-winning goal to North Carolina State with just one minute left in second overtime, William and Mary proved it could compete with an Atlantic Coast Conference team.

After trading goals midway through the second half, the Tribe and the Wolfpack fought for the final advantage in the second 10-minute overtime period.  N.C. State’s forwards threatened to break open the game time and again, but the College defense kept finding a way to frustrate their efforts. The Wolfpack finally found the answer on an improbable free kick goal with one minute left in the game.

In contrast, the first half was relatively quiet. There were only four shots in the first half and only one that necessitated an easy save by a goalie. The second half, which featured 25 shots, more than made up for the sleepy first half.

“The first half was kind of a cagey, tactical half, not a lot of chances,” head coach Chris Norris said. “In the second half, we knew it would open up a little. We were much better in the second half in terms of how we tried to break them down.”

Sophomore forward Jackson Eskay opened up the scoring in the 65th minute, ripping his second goal of the young season past N.C. State goalkeeper Fabian Otte. Finding space just outside the box, Eskay perfectly struck the ball just above Otte’s outstretched hands and into the back of the net to put the Tribe up 1-0.

“I saw a little space coming out of the throw-in. So I decided I was going to go for it,” Eskay said.

The lead was short-lived. Thirty seconds after Eskay’s goal, N.C. State’s Alex Martinez faked out a College defender in the box, screwed the ball off the goalpost and past freshman goalkeeper Mac Phillips to steal the College’s momentum.

The Tribe spent most of the rest of regulation frantically working to deny the Wolfpack a go-ahead goal. N.C. State’s forwards repeatedly penetrated into the College’s box and threatened to score; however, the Tribe’s defenders held firm.

But while N.C. State regularly got into the box, the College seemed content to lob crosses from the wing into the penalty area or to take unlikely shots from outside. Few of the Tribe’s shots were on target and Otte only had to make three saves, compared to Phillip’s eight.

Besieged by over 20 shots in the regulation period, Phillips surrendered only one goal.  However, Phillips was much less sure-handed Tuesday than he was the previous Saturday in his first clean sheet, which led to many close calls against the Wolfpack offense.

“Mac [Phillips] has done really well for us,” senior defender Roshan Patel said. “If you asked before the beginning of the season if he was going to play for us – maybe, probably not.”

In the 79th minute, N.C. State took three successive shots from within 10 yards of the goal. Phillips blocked the first shot, while defenders blocked the second two. Five minutes later, junior left back Marcus Luster saved another goal in the nick of time that had gotten past Phillips.

But, the Tribe’s hard-fought tie slipped out of its hands in the waning minutes of the second overtime. Following a questionable penalty call, N.C. State’s Holden Fender threaded the ball past the wall of defenders and just beyond Phillips’ diving attempt, ending the game in dubious fashion for the Tribe.

“I didn’t think it was a foul to begin with, but that happens.” Patel said. “It got around the wall and we couldn’t get to it”

The College travels to Norfolk Friday to play Central Florida in the first match of the Stihl Soccer Classic.


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