Lancers defeat William & Mary 4-3

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Through four matches, Longwood field hockey had been a sturdy, stout defensive team that had only conceded five goals and had a pair of shutouts. On Sunday, the script changed completely at William & Mary as the offense set the tempo.

Scoring came in bunches for the Longwood (3-2) in a wild, back-and-forth match that saw Longwood learn from a tough loss on Friday. The squad kept up the pressure and knocked off their in-state foe 4-3. Four different players scored for the Lancers in the thriller, and the fourth period featured a combined four goals between the two teams in a five minute stretch.

“We learned in our ODU game that the game can change in a minute and a half, and it was great to see our growth from that game,” redshirt-senior goalkeeper Madison Nuckols, who tied a season high with five saves, said. “It was great as a goalkeeper to see my team had my back and keep scoring. We learned from the entire weekend as a whole that it is easy to score, be in the lead, and want to sit back, but the game can change in a hurry. We have to stay aggressive and apply pressure.”

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Sophomores played off that pressure and did the bulk of the scoring for Longwood, with Kate Frey, Hunter Paige-Johnson and Isis Vrolijks each scoring a goal along with senior leader Kolbey Donahue. Vrolijks and Donahue added assists as well. Frey had the final tally for Longwood, as the Louisville, Kentucky scored the go-ahead goal that went down as the game winner just 16 seconds after William & Mary knotted the score at three apiece. It was the first game winner of her Longwood career.

“We learned a lesson on Friday that if we sit back too long and invite too much pressure it can come back to bite us. And — ironically — we didn’t defend as well as we did on Friday, but we were a little more fortunate,” Longwood Head Coach Iain Byers said. “To score so quickly after they got their third was so important. It was a crazy game. That word gets bandied about a lot, but this was truly one of the weirdest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

That offensive output was enough to offset a strong effort from CAA power William & Mary (0-4). Second-team All-CAA performer Sally Snead had the game-tying goal in the fourth, while Lauren Curran and Maddie McGaughey found the back of the cage as well for their first goals of the fall.

The scoring started quickly, as Curran hit the back of the cage 40 seconds into the match, but Longwood didn’t back down. Instead, Donahue equalized the score by banging home a penalty corner less than four minutes later.

“They scored a quick goal in the first minute, and that was overwhelming early on,” Nuckols said. “We had trouble organizing in the first half, but we settled down. We really turned that around in the second half. We were never giving up.”

As the two defenses settled down and kept the score tied at one until the third period. After three straight penalty corners for Longwood, Donahue found Paige-Johnson, and the sophomore gave Longwood the 2-1 lead as the third period wound down.

The offensive fireworks picked up in the fourth, as Vrolijks put one in the back of the cage with an assist by senior Jamie Wright. Yet McGaughey and Snead each buried opportunities less than two-and-a-half minutes apart to even the score at three.

Longwood again had the answer as Frey and Vrolijks combined for the final goal of the match. The Lancer defense held firm, fending off a penalty corner inside the final 60 seconds to preserve the win.

The two sides combined for 30 shots, with both sides putting eight shots on target.

“This win gives us some confidence,” Byers said. “The phrase the team uses a lot that I like is ‘Humble Swag.’ Being able to be combative and defend is good, but being able to go forward and score goals is also good. It gives us balance heading into conference play.”