It is rare for a college team to defeat an opponent ranked #1 in the country, and such defeats are usually heralded as incredible upsets. For the William & Mary men’s soccer team to have achieved such a feat twice in 2013 is quite an accomplishment.
The Tribe have defeated Creighton and North Carolina this year, both of which were ranked #1 by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) and by College Soccer News when they faced William & Mary.
This year is the first time William & Mary has defeated a #1 ranked team since 2004, when they beat Maryland 1-0 in double overtime thanks to a goal from Brannon Thomas.
The Tribe’s first victory over a top-ranked opponent in 2013 came on September 15, when the Tribe beat Creighton 3-2 thanks to a golden goal from redshirt freshman midfielder Jeff Bombelles. It was the Bluejays’ first loss in the NCAA season, as William & Mary came back from 2-1 down in the second half to take the win in overtime.
Josh West and Chris Albiston were also on target for the Tribe, cancelling out goals in each half from Marvin Iskra and Sean Kim for Creighton, and William & Mary Head Coach Chris Norris was delighted with the result.
“I thought it was a very well played college soccer match,” he told reporters after the game. “It was an even game in terms of statistics and chances. It is always great to get a result against a top team like Creighton. Once we got down in the second half, I thought we picked up the tempo and played much stronger. In the end I thought we deserved to get the equalizer and the winner.”
William & Mary were at it again just nine days later, as they defeated #1 ranked North Carolina 1-0 thanks to a goal in the 73rd minute from Jackson Eskay. It was the Tar Heels’ first loss of the season, and saw the Tribe improve their season record to 4-2-1.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper Mac Phillips earned his fourth shutout of the season in the victory, with the Tribe’s Head Coach Chris Norris seeing his record against the top-ranked team in the country improved to 3-1-0.
These two victories over the top-ranked team sandwiched another victory over a ranked side, this time over #24 Elon on September 20. The Tribe won 1-0 in double overtime over the Phoenix thanks to a header from senior Roshan Patel.
It was the first time in William & Mary history that they defeated top 25-ranked opponents on three consecutive occasions, an impressive feat given that they have not played a game at home since September 10.
Their next game sees the Tribe open conference play in the Colonial Athletic Association away against Drexel on September 28, with a home matchup against the College of Charleston following on October 5.
Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @chris_teale.