The problems that have plagued the women’s soccer team all season long, namely too many injuries and a lack of scoring, reared their ugly heads again this weekend. Losses to NESCAC opponents Colby on Saturday and Trinity on Sunday dropped the women’s soccer team to 1-4-1 on the season and kept Tufts winless in conference play.
In both matches, the Jumbos dug themselves early holes that proved to be too deep to climb out of. Two minutes into Saturday’s contest, Colby junior Annie Papadellis was pulled down in the box and the Mules were awarded an early penalty kick.
Staring a possible 1-0 hole in the face, Tufts goalkeeper Kristin Wright made an excellent diving stop to deny Colby sophomore Cami Notaro’s penalty shot and preserve the early draw.
But the Jumbos’ relief was only momentary. After squandering the early chance, the Mules continued the pressure, keeping the ball in the Jumbos’ zone before finally cashing in on a laser shot by Papadellis in the eighth minute.
“It’s extremely important that we come out focused and ready to go,” senior midfielder Rachel Aronchick said. “One of our team goals is to get the first goal of the game. Once we get that first ball in the back of the net, we can all relax a little bit and just play our game. Giving up the first goal is tough because we constantly feel like we’re playing catch-up.”
The Jumbos had trouble generating any real opportunities the rest of the way, as the Mules dominated time of possession and kept the ball on the Jumbos’ side of the field most of the game. Colby finally tallied an insurance goal in the 83rd minute of play, when junior Crysti Tsujiura took a cross from senior Kate Laxson and deposited it into the lower right corner of the net for her team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Tufts pulled to within 2-1 in the 89th minute on a penalty kick by junior Anya Kaufman. But the Jumbos never got a chance to tie the game, as the final whistle blew just seconds later.
“We created a lot of scoring opportunities and did a better job of switching the field and finding our outside midfielders,” junior midfielder Amanda Neveu, who scored one of Tufts’ two goals of the year but could not play this weekend due to injury, said. “There were periods of the game when we dominated the run of play, but we need to improve our consistency and keep up our work rate for the full ninety minutes.”
Following the disappointing home loss, Tufts traveled to Trinity on Sunday for another conference matchup. But once again, the Jumbos fell behind early, giving up a breakaway goal in the 32nd minute to sophomore Elisa Dolan.
The Bantams then took all the gas out of the Jumbo’s tank seven minutes into the second half, when forward Abbey Lake blasted an unassisted goal into the back of the net. The goal was Lake’s third of the weekend alone but, more importantly, gave Trinity a 2-0 lead that they did not relinquish.
“As disappointing as this weekend was, it gives us a great opportunity to improve our mental toughness,” Aronchick said. “It would be really easy for us to sit back and dwell on the losses, but this allows us to test ourselves and see how we move on from here.”
Unlike Saturday’s contest, Tufts saw its fair share of opportunities on Sunday, finishing with a 13-9 advantage in shots, including three on goal by freshman Allie Weiller. However, Trinity freshman Monika DiFiori was stellar in goal with eight saves. Wright was solid in the net for the Jumbos, with five saves of her own, but it was not enough as the Jumbos fell for the second time in less than 24 hours.
“It’s very frustrating to lose games to teams that we know we can compete with and beat, but as a team we know what we need to do in order to come out on top in our next games,” Aronchick said. “These games are behind us now. Everyone knows we need to stick together and work hard, and the goals and wins will come.”
Tufts will not see game action again until next weekend, when they take on Amherst on Saturday in their homecoming matchup. Tufts will stay home to take on Bates on Sunday, in what will be yet another critical conference matchup.
“I think the time off will give us a chance to recover physically and mentally from this weekend’s games,” Neveu said. “We can focus on working hard in practice and improving specific aspects of our game.”