With 45 seconds left in the second overtime, it looked like the women’s soccer team was going to leave Wesleyan with a 0-0 tie. But in the waning seconds of the game, the Jumbos were able to take the ball from one end of the field to the other, and freshman midfielder Robin Estus sunk a goal with just under half a minute to go.
Senior goalkeeper Kristin Wright set up the miraculous goal by punting the ball far down field, and junior Alex Farris got a head on it and flicked it to senior co-captain Anya Kaufman. Kaufman took a shot from 18 yards out that hit the crossbar and bounced wide of the goal. Estus was able to corral the rebound, keep her composure and loft the ball just inches over the goalie’s head to seal the match for Tufts.
With the goal, the Jumbos came away with a hard-earned win, the third in a row this season, in a game that was characterized by energized and aggressive play and some phenomenal goal keeping. The win at Wesleyan brings their overall record to 3-2, and 2-1 in the NESCAC.
The first half started off sluggishly for the Jumbos as the team warmed up to the field. Neither team was particularly dominant, with Tufts outshooting Wesleyan 9-6.
Defensively, the Jumbos did a good job of holding strong in the back, and Wright made one crucial save midway through the first half on a breakaway that kept the Cardinals off the board.
Wright is back in goal after taking some time off with an injury, and coach Martha Whiting believes that her presence in the back of the net inspires confidence for the rest of the team.
“She’s a phenomenal goal keeper,” Whiting said. “There’s a level of confidence that we have in her, it’s been nice having her in the back and a good feeling to know that we have three goalkeepers that can get the job done.”
The Jumbos heated up in the second half and came on with intensity. They outshot Wesleyan 11-1 in the half and kept pressure on the offense with control and powerful shots. According to Kaufman, the team created opportunities for goals on many occasions.
“There was a period when we got corner after corner, cross after cross, and we really wanted to score and win,” Kaufman said. “We were really trying to attack, especially with the sun in the goalie’s eyes.”
The sun did not seem to stop Wesleyan junior Jessica Tollman who made some spectacular saves and managed to keep the Cardinals in the game when it looked like the Jumbos had the upper hand. Of the 11 shots in the second half, Tollman saved the eight on goal, with several spectacular dives and aggressive moves where she managed to punch the ball out of the scoring zone.
According to Whiting, there were several instances in the second half where she was sure a goal had been scored, only to find the attempt foiled by Tollman.
“I was convinced three different times that we were going to score, but she made some great saves and definitely kept them in the game,” Whiting said.
Tollman fought back the Jumbo onslaught through regular play, and the Cardinals came back with heightened energy for the first overtime. Right off the opening of overtime, the Cardinals took control of the game, and got a shot on goal 43 seconds in – their first one in 30 minutes of play.
Wesleyan carried the momentum through the first overtime, outshooting Tufts for the first time in the game, with five shots on goal to Tufts’ two. The Cardinals almost sealed the deal in the first overtime, with a well-placed header off of a corner kick. Wright made a spectacular diving catch to block the ball, which gave the team more confidence to press forward, according to Kaufman.
The second overtime started off stagnant, with neither team taking a clear advantage and the sides evenly matched. According to Estus, it was a challenging game for the Jumbos and exciting to be able to pull out the win.
“I think it was a great battle with Wesleyan, they are an awesome team,” Estus said. “We outshot them but didn’t capitalize until 25 seconds left and we did what we had to do. It was definitely one of the more challenging games.”
The Jumbos look ahead now to Saturday’s game against Amherst, their second game in a string of four NESCAC matchups.