The score was tied 5-5 at the end of the first quarter but the Phoenix scored four goals in the opening 4:06 of the second quarter to take a commanding lead that the team did not relinquish throughout the rest of the game.
Sophomore midfielder Margaret Stephan said the scoring run was crucial in helping Elon take control of the game.
“That gives us the confidence we need to finish the rest of the game,” Stephan said. “We know that each and every single person out there can score and when we know that, we know that we have the confidence and we trust each other. It sets us up for success.”
The first quarter featured 10 total goals, eight fouls, four yellow cards and two lead changes. Head coach Josh Hexter said he was proud of how Elon moved the ball against William & Mary’s aggressive zone defense and for matching their physicality from start to finish.
“It was a physical game and William & Mary was physical the entire game,” Hexter said. “Our girls did a really good job of attacking the pressure and for the most part remaining poised throughout the whole game.”
Elon led 11-8 at halftime but the teams combined for just three third quarter goals, with Elon scoring two of them. The first goal of the frame did not come until junior midfielder Kaley Ehnow scored for the Phoenix with 6:44 remaining.
Hexter said unforced turnovers by both teams led to the lower scoring third quarter but he still liked the way his team executed on draws and in offensive sets despite William & Mary’s consistent defensive pressure.
“There was a lot of swinging and swiping,” Hexter said. “We handled it well, so I was happy about that.”
Elon added four more goals in the fourth quarter to secure a five goal victory. For Hexter, every CAA win is critical as only four teams will make the conference tournament at the end of the regular season.
“It’s a huge confidence boost for them,” Hexter said. “Every win is a huge win, and for this young team to come out and play the way they did, I’m really happy for them.”
Stephan scored a team-high four goals but five other players also had multiple goals. Elon now has five players with at least 18 goals, the most of any team in the CAA.
“It’s such a team effort,” Stephan said. “The goals have been so balanced this year and it’s just really encouraging to see for future CAA play.”
Elon controlled 20 draws compared to William & Mary’s 13 and won the groundball battle 20-10.
Senior goalie Paige Brown started for Elon and made five saves, including one in the third quarter that caused Elon’s bench to erupt with cheers. Elon currently ranks last in the CAA in team saves but Hexter said Brown’s performance against the Tribe was a step in the right direction.
“It was huge for her confidence,” Hexter said. “She had a really hard first half and then she made those saves in the third quarter and you could tell it gave us a boost.”
Elon travels to face Towson University in its first CAA road game Saturday. The game will begin at 12 p.m.