WILLIAMSBURG - Ahead of a big match Sunday at No. 21 Duke, William and Mary's women's soccer team improved to 3-0 Friday, opening its home slate with a 3-0 shutout of East Carolina.
Through three games, the Tribe has outscored ECU, Georgetown and Seton Hall by a combined 11-1.
Elysse Branton, Katie Johnston and Barbara Platenberg found the net Friday for William and Mary, scoring each of the goals in the first half before the Pirates found more success getting forward in the second.
Not nearly content with the three-goal advantage, Tribe head coach John Daly told his team at halftime whichever team scored the next goal would shape the outcome.
"We defended well, but we kept coughing the ball up, kicking it back to them and that was frustrating," Daly said. "We got into a couple of good situations where we might have been able to increase and get that fourth goal and just the wrong decision in the end or the wrong serve."
Branton, a sophomore, opened the scoring with 26 minutes, 24 seconds to play in the first half on an unassisted 22-yard strike that beat diving ECU goalkeeper Saundra Baron to her right. Branton ripped the low kick after a long, uncontested run forward from midfield.
"That's a goal of the week right there," Daly said.
The other two weren't quite as picturesque.
Senior forward Katie Johnston chested a ball in from her roommate Meghan Musgrove, a senior defender, about two minutes after Branton's goal. Musgrove sent in a booming free kick from the right side of the field before the 5-foot-11 New Jersey native eluded her defender.
"The past three years we've really struggled scoring goals so this season we've really worked on offensive strategy," Johnston said of the offense's strong 2015 start, "different runs to make off the ball, really working hard off the ball, and it was a nice surprise coming out strong."
Junior Haley Kavenaugh assisted Platenberg, a senior, on the final tally with about two minutes to play in the half.
Daly hoped to get that fourth goal to put the game out of reach and give his players some rest for Sunday's clash in Durham, N.C., the first of three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference opponents for the Tribe.
"We just have to hope we have something left in the tank for Sunday," Daly said.
MEN'S SOCCER: W&M fell 2-1 in its season opener Friday at No. 18 Louisville.
Freshman Antonio Bustamante scored the Tribe's goal.