The No. 6 field hockey team did not waste its opportunity on Wednesday after being granted a second life with NCAA tournament selections last weekend. The Jumbos duked it out with visiting the Anna Maria College Cats in sub-freezing temperatures to capture a 5-0 victory and advance to the second round of NCAA play this weekend.
Tufts immediately jumped out to an early lead, and continued to dominate possession for most of the game, seizing a 30 to two advantage in penalty corner opportunities. In the end, the Jumbos’ defense successfully notched its ninth overall shutout, as junior keeper Bri Keenan and freshman Carrie Cook combined for just one save to blank the Cats.
The hosts broke through in the second minute of the game, when sophomore midfielder Rachel Terveer helped carry the ball from midfield and into Tufts’ offensive zone. The forwards immediately worked the ball into the center of the 16-meter circle, where sophomore midfielder Dakota Sikes-Keilp received the ball in front of the cage and fired a backhanded shot past Anna Maria keeper Mary Kate Breen to put Tufts on the board.
In the next five minutes, the Jumbos worked to earn several more penalty corners and fired several shots off, one of which trickled just right of the cage. Sikes-Keilp drilled another shot high that deflected off of the crossbar but Tufts was unable to put the rebound in.
Eventually, the Jumbos converted on a penalty corner. Sophomore Alexandra Jamison inserted the ball to the 16-meter circle. Sikes-Keilp then made the assist on a line drive goal from senior All-American center midfielder Emily Cannon.
Tufts wasted no time in earning yet another penalty corner. Cannon received the ball again, sending a similar shot from the top of the arc straight through the Anna Maria defenders and into the boards. Her score gave the Jumbos a large 3-0 lead in just the 14th minute of play.
In the remaining minutes of the half, senior co-captain forward Steph Wan and junior forward Brittany Norfleet each took aim on goal but were unable to push the Jumbos’ lead – Wan’s goal was saved by Breen while Norfleet’s touch sailed just wide left of the cage.
Then, Tufts nearly had another opportunity. Sophomore defender Alexandra Jamison, positioned at the post, received a ball and tapped it in past Breen, but the play was called back by the referees. Nevertheless, head coach Tina McDavitt’s squad entered halftime with a comfortable lead.
The Jumbos emerged from intermission determined to keep up their intensity from the first half, despite holding a sizeable advantage and worsening weather conditions. Maintaining their focus, it took Tufts just four minutes to push the lead to 4-0 on another strike from Sikes-Keilp, who this time sent a shot rocketing in from the top of the circle.
The Cats held the Jumbos scoreless for the next 13 minutes, but failed to produce any scoring opportunities at the other end of the field. Eventually, Tufts broke through one more time, when Norfleet received a ball from Cannon and put it past Breen to make it 5-0 in the 53rd minute. For the next 20 minutes, neither team found the back of the boards, but the Jumbos had all they needed to advance.
On Thursday, Tufts departed from the Hill to start a two-day, 450-mile bus ride to Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Seagulls are the tournament’s overall No. 2 seed and will host the Jumbos on Saturday afternoon in the Sweet Sixteen round of NCAA action.
Three years ago, Tufts’ current seniors lost in the round of sixteen, but now as leaders of their squad, they are hoping to help take the team deeper in the postseason.