WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – After battling 20th-ranked William & Mary to a scoreless tie in regulation, the Tribe eventually netted the game-winner in the 92nd minute to hand VCU a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime loss in the title game of the 2011 Virginia 529 College Savings Plan CAA Women's Soccer Championship Sunday afternoon at Albert-Daly Field. William & Mary snapped VCU's 10-match unbeaten streak and handed the Rams their first loss since Sept. 25.
Less than two minutes into overtime, William & Mary's Erin Liberatore lifted a pass through the middle of the box to Mallory Schaffer, who then found the lower right corner for the game-winning goal, her sixth of the season. It was the first shot the Tribe had attempted since the 61st minute.
"The loss is heartbreaking because we played so well," said VCU Co-Head Coach Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak. "It's going to hurt for a while but we have a good team and the only thing we'll do is focus on all the positives that happened this year and move on.
"We've come really far this year. I'm nothing but proud to be co-head coach of this team. They gave it everything they had this whole year, even when we weren't getting the results early in the season. They stayed persistent and believed in what we were doing. They put a lot of trust in each other and our staff."
VCU outshot William & Mary 17-8, including a 9-1 advantage in the second half. However, the Tribe scored on its only chance in the overtime period.
Two weeks ago, VCU handed then 18th-ranked William & Mary one of its two losses on the year with a 1-0 triumph at Sports Backers Stadium on Oct. 23. The Tribe has remained in the national polls since.
"We have a lot of respect for William & Mary," Roberts Sahaydak said. "But on a championship day, we don't look at rankings. We gave it our best and we have to be proud of that."
Freshman Cristin Granados posted a career-high seven shots to pace VCU's offensive attack, while sophomore Courtney Conrad finished with four. Conrad, senior Meaghan Dullea and junior goalkeeper Kristin Carden were each named to the CAA All-Tournament team.
William & Mary was on the attack early as Dani Rutter found Erin Liberatore in front of the net less than 45 seconds into the match, but her shot sailed high of the target.
The Rams countered three minutes later when junior Gabby Wilson lifted a cross into the box to Azania, who sent a header toward the net but Tribe goalkeeper Katherine Yount was there to collect her first save of the match.
VCU had another chance in the 20th minute when Conrad broke loose on the right wing. Her shot from the top of the box was blocked by a William & Mary defender but Granados was there to fire back the rebound that just missed wide right of the net.
With 17 minutes to play in the first half, the Tribe's Aly Shaughnessy took a feed from Diana Weigel and fired a look high of the net from the top of the box. Then, in the closing seconds of the opening stanza, Yount made a save on junior Karol Sanchez's header to keep the match scoreless at intermission as VCU held a narrow 8-6 advantage in shots during the first half.
VCU controlled play in the second period and had a pair of looks midway through the half. After the Rams regained possession with 23 minutes left in regulation, junior Heather Hovanesian dribbled up the right sideline and passed to Conrad, who then connected with Granados inside the box but her shot drifted just wide of the far post. Then, less than three minutes later, Wilson had a look from 12 yards out but Yount made a snag to preserve the tie.
The Rams nearly got on the board following a William & Mary foul with 12 minutes to play in regulation but Granados' free kick from about 20 yards out nailed the far post. She had another chance five minutes later but it just missed wide left.
With time winding down in regulation, junior Carly Edgcomb sent a shot from the top of the box with 10 seconds left but Yount made the stop to force overtime.
William & Mary then converted one of its few chances after intermission less than two minutes into overtime when Schaffer scored the game-winner to give the Tribe their first CAA title since 2003.
VCU last reached the CAA championship match in 2007 but lost to Hofstra 1-0 in Virginia Beach, Va.