Thursday, Nov. 3, William and Mary traveled to Wilmington, NC, for the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament. The Tribe lost to Hofstra 1-0 in extra time.
After the first encounter between these two teams earlier in the season ended in a 0-0 draw, it was no surprise to see the defense dominate for both teams.
After 90 minutes of lockdown defensive performances for both teams, Hofstra junior forward Ryan Carmichael, who was named CAA Player of the Year, broke the tie. After the Tribe lost possession of the ball in midfield, a routine clearance from Hoftsra turned into a half chance for Carmichael, who converted with a low driven shot into the bottom corner from just inside the 18 yard box. With only seven minutes remaining, Hofstra were able to hold out and bring an end to William and Mary’s season.
“They are very good dribblers and do well when they have room in transition,” said head coach Chris Norris. “I thought for the majority of the game we did really well in defending transition.”
A notable performance from the Tribe came from graduate student goalkeeper Danilo Nikcevic. He held Hoftstra scoreless for over 90 minutes and resisted Hofstra’s constant attacks for all of the regulation time. Nikcevic recorded a career high eight saves on ten shots on target, with the pick of the bunch being a double save with just under 25 minutes left in regulation. Nikcevic and the rest of the Tribe defense held Hofstra sophomore midfielder Eliot Goldthorp, who leads the nation in goals (14) to a minimal role throughout the contest. Only allowing one goal against the Pride in 200 minutes of gametime throughout the season is an incredible accomplishment for the Tribe.
Offensively, the Tribe were able to generate 12 total shots with only three ending up on target. There were two standout chances for the Green and Gold during the game, with the first coming in the first half for senior forward Diba Nwegbo. Senior Nathan Messer put in a lofted shot on target with Nwegbo running in to finish, but Hofstra senior defender Shane Salmon cleared it away at the last moment off a header. The Tribe’s second chance came 75 minutes into the game when senior Alexander Levengood’s header forced a quick reaction save from Hofstra junior goalkeeper Wessel Speel. This was the Tribe’s first shot on target, and was their most threatening moment in the game.
“We created some good chances,” Norris said. “We didn’t do a good enough job at being efficient with those chances, getting it on target, and forcing the goalkeeper to work a little bit harder.”
With the Tribe’s season now finished, memorable moments from the season include their huge upset win over No. 10 Wake Forest, and their thrilling comeback win over Monmouth just over a week ago that gave them their tournament berth.
The soccer team will graduate a large group of players this year.
“They have been really influential and have gone through college athletics during a really difficult time,” Norris said. “They have weathered a lot of uncertainty and been great representatives of our soccer programs, our athletic department, and the school itself. I am sad to see them go but excited for what the future holds for those guys.”