It was a surprise everyone saw coming.
William and Mary, coming off back-to-back wins over former No. 1 Creighton and No. 24 Elon, defeated newly anointed No. 1 North Carolina 1-0 Tuesday night at Martin Family Stadium. Sophomore forward Jackson Eskay scored the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute to seal the Tribe’s (4-2-1) third consecutive win over a ranked opponent.
This victory was the third for head coach Chris Norris against the top team in the country in the regular season. The win brings Norris’ total record against No. 1 squads to 3-1-0.
“We were playing well; we had beaten some really good teams in Creighton and Elon, so we felt like we had a very good opportunity to win the game,” Norris said. “Obviously, to beat two number ones in a season and to beat two in a nine-day period is almost unheard of. Did I think it was going to happen? No, not necessarily. But, did I think it was possible? Yes, definitely.”
Like the previous two upsets, the College entered with confidence. Just four minutes into the contest, senior forward Roshan Patel received the ball in scoring position off a corner kick. He ripped a shot on goal, but North Carolina’s goalkeeper Brendan Moore registered the save. Upping the offensive pressure, junior midfielder Josh West managed to get a foot on the ball off a corner in the 14th minute. However, Moore once again made the save.
Although the College held a 5-2 advantage in shots in the first half, it was the Tar Heels who saw the best chance. In the 41st minute, Tar Heel midfielder Chipper Root saw an opportunity and fired a shot from just short of midfield, hoping to catch Tribe redshirt sophomore keeper Mac Phillips out of position. Root succeeded, but the ball did not stay down and dinged harmlessly off the crossbar.
The second half bought similar returns for the Tar Heels, who held the advantage in possession and pressured the College’s defense from the whistle. North Carolina opened the half with a quick shot from midfielder Alex Olofson that sailed wide of the target. Not to be outdone, the Tribe responded with a shot from Eskay; again, however, Moore made the save.
Eskay’s next chance would be very different.
Senior Chris Perez hit a cross into the box for junior Chris Albiston in the 73rd minute. Albiston redirected the ball across the face of the goal, managing to pass it through a host of Tar Heel defenders, where it ended up resting on the goal line.
Eskay pounced. A struggle between Eskay and Moore ensued before the referee signaled that the ball had crossed the line. For the third game in a row, the Tribe owned a lead over a nationally ranked opponent.
With Eskay’s go-ahead goal, his fourth of the season, in hand, the pressure turned to the College’s keeper, Phillips.
In the 84th minute, North Carolina’s Marco Sunol threatened to equalize the score; however, Phillips was there to make a key stop to keep the match 1-0. Again in the 90th minute, as the Tar Heels desperately fought to find a score, Phillips made another key save against Olofson, effectively sealing the match.
Phillips recorded all three of his saves in the decisive second half, giving him a CAA-leading fourth shutout. Phillips has not allowed a goal in 242 minutes of consecutive game play.
“Personally I don’t think I played as well as I could have, but I came up big when we needed me to,” Phillips told Tribe Athletics. “I’m so excited we beat the No.1 team in the nation.
The College completes its five-game road trip Saturday, opening CAA play against Drexel at 4 p.m.