WILLIAMSBURG, VA. – An early goal decided a defensive struggle as the East Carolina soccer team fell to William & Mary 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
“Pretty disappointing outcome today,” said Head Soccer Coach Jason Hamilton. “William & Mary definitely outworked us and wanted the game much more than we did. I think the first half was our most disappointing half all fall.”
ECU falls to 4-4-0 while William & Mary improves to 2-4-0.
Neither team could create many clear-cut chances in the opening 45 minutes. The teams combined for nine shots and just three of those on goal. Unfortunately for East Carolina, William & Mary was able to convert one of those chances into the opening score. In the 17th minute, Kayleigh Shackford drove at the ECU penalty area from the halfway line. Just before reaching the box, Shackford let loose a shot with her right foot that flew into the back of the net.
“That allowed them to come out and just defend for the last 45 minutes,” Hamilton said. “I don’t think we adjusted very well at halftime to the things that would allow us to have some success. We even tried players that hadn’t had much of an opportunity before to see if they would bring a spark of energy.”
Coming out of the locker room trailing, the Pirates pushed forward to try to tie the game. ECU dominated the shot total in the second half, outshooting the Tribe 12-1. Grace Doran and Tori Riggs took back-to-back shots in the 59th minute, but William & Mary goalkeeper Morgan Wood made stops on both. Wood made another save on Haley McWhirter’s shot in the 64th minute.
ECU had another pair of chances starting in the 81st minute, both created by Annabelle Abbott. Abbott’s first shot was headed for the bottom corner of the net before Wood made the stop and a minute later, Abbott took another shot, this one also denied by Wood.
The Pirates finished with a 16-6 edge in shots and a 6-2 advantage in shots on goal. The Tribe took three corners to two for ECU. Maeve English made one save for ECU while Grace Lemley made one stop in the first half with Wood making five stops in the second half.
“It is something we preach all the time to our players, you have to outwork your opponent,” Hamilton added. “Talent means nothing if you are getting outworked.”
The Pirates will look to get back in the win column quickly as they open AAC play on Thursday night at South Florida. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., on ESPN+.