If football is a game of inches, then lacrosse is a game of centimeters. In an emotional 11-10 loss against Virginia Tech (4-4), William and Mary (1-5) came up just a fraction short Saturday at Martin Family Stadium, with a shot off the goalpost and another nullified by an illegal stick penalty.
The Tribe offense kicked into high gear off the opening whistle as senior midfielder Taelor Salmon’s two goals bolstered a 3-0 run in the opening seven minutes. Junior midfielder Alexi Farmakis sank a goal in from close range, beating her defender behind the goal and wheeling around to the front for the shot.
Using this isolation strategy, the Tribe capitalized on multiple one-on-one matchups behind the goal in the first half.
“We were really composed in the first half, and we were really looking for those openings for shots,” junior attacker Kaleigh Noon said.
Noon finished the first half with a hat trick. The Tribe attack also forced several turnovers by pressuring the Hokies on clears, a large reason behind the Tribe’s 18-12 turnover advantage.
Despite the offensive success, the Tribe defense struggled early with breakdowns in man coverage. The College had difficulty finding an answer to Virginia Tech attacker Megan Will, who finished with four goals and two assists.
The Hokies tied the game at four with 12 minutes remaining, but the Tribe defense corrected most of the communication issues and slowed the Hokies.
“We didn’t allow them to go on any big runs, which is huge as we’ve struggled with that in the past,” head coach Hillary Fratzke said.
The Tribe was able to answer the Hokies goal-for-goal for most of the game.
The first half closed with the College leading 8-6, although the Tribe wasted the last possession due to an errant shot. Throughout the first half, the Tribe uncharacteristically lost several possessions on poor passes, which Fratzke identified as a need for the offense to settle the ball.
“Once we got that composure on attack, we didn’t have a problem scoring. It was just getting from the franticness to the composure … and improving our shot selection,” Fratzke said.
Both teams were evenly matched at the half; William and Mary took 12 shots to the Hokies’ 11, while the College led 8-7 in groundballs. Virginia Tech earned an 8-7 draw advantage for the Hokies.
The second half featured a Tribe team unable to replicate its first half success. Virginia Tech outscored the College 5-2 en route to the one goal win.
“We had the options; we just didn’t finish our shots,” Noon said.
The Tribe offense managed 11 shots total in the second half, eight of which went to the goalie’s stick as the Hokies quadrupled their first half saves. Another shot on an 8-yard try bounced off the goalpost.
With 7:48 remaining, junior midfielder Alexi Farmakis celebrated after rifling an 8-yard free position shot into the net to tie the game at 11. Then heartbreak ensued.
The shooter’s stick is checked after every goal, and Farmakis’ pocket was found to be just a hair below regulations, even though it had been deemed legal after her goal in the first half. The goal was nullified, and Tribe trailed again 11-10, never scoring again.
Fratzke viewed the penalty as unfortunate, but a lesson for the team going forward. Other questionable calls hindered the Tribe, particularly a no-call on hard contact against senior attack Jenna Dougherty and a penalty against the Hokies that negated a fast break by senior defender Hannah Clarke.
Despite a valiant effort that included a shot by junior midfielder Amanda Johnson as time expired, Virginia Tech was able to kill the final minutes.
Salmon finished with four goals and two assists. Noon scored three goals and senior attacker Bridget Brown added a goal. Additionally, junior attacker Ellen Shaffrey and Farmakis each scored.
The Tribe hosts Albany (5-0) at Martin Family Stadium today at 3 p.m.
“We have one of the toughest schedules I’ve ever seen, especially with the quick turnarounds [between games],” Fratzke said. “It’s a great opportunity and we’ll just have to come out fighting again.”