The women’s soccer team played two NESCAC rivals this past week, blowing past Colby 3-1 on Saturday and tying 1-1 with Wesleyan in double overtime on Tuesday. The team extends its unbeaten streak to four, with a season record of 3-0-1 and an overall NESCAC record of 2-0-1.
Wesleyan got on the scoreboard first with a goal from senior tri-captain Hannah Stone in the 49th minute, but gave away its lead just two minutes later with an own goal that tied the game at 1-1 after a scoreless first half.
“At this point of the game, we were pressuring them, we were in their half, passing around and the ball got to [sophomore forward] Jess [Capone]. She struck the ball really hard, placed it really well, the Wesleyan defender happened to be right where Jess struck it,” senior midfielder co-captain Carla Kruyff said. “[The Wesleyan defender] tried to stop the ball but it just deflected off her foot and kept going straight, into the goal.”
Despite outshooting the Cardinals 19-8 in the game, the Jumbos were unable to convert some close looks on goal.
With the clock nearing the 90 minute mark, the Jumbos were able to get one last chance for a victory in regular time.
“I chipped a ball to [Jess Capone] and the clock was counting down 10, nine, eight … and in the final second she hit it and it hit the crossbar,” senior forward Alex Farris said. “It was just unlucky.”
On paper, the matchup between Wesleyan and Tufts looked like a mismatch in Tufts’ favor. Heading into the game, Tufts had been one of three undefeated teams in the NESCAC, while Wesleyan was searching for its first win after an 0-4 start to the season. The Cardinals were coming off a 2-0 loss against the Babson Beavers, while the Jumbos were riding the momentum from their 3-1 victory at Colby.
Yet against a strong Bowdoin team, one of the other undefeated NESCAC teams, Wesleyan showed spark. The Cardinals took the Polar Bears to double overtime, before conceding a goal in the waning minutes of the second overtime.
It seems that the Cardinals always save their best performance for the Jumbos. The last matchup between the two teams also went to double overtime, before sophomore Robin Estus scored to give Tufts the 1-0 victory last season.
“Without a doubt we’ve been fantastic throughout the season thus far, but Wesleyan is always a team that gives us a tough game,” assistant coach Jenna Ross said. “They’re a very strong and physical team with a phenomenal goalkeeper. We’ve been a little bit more successful [in the first three games] on the attacking end [but] we were really challenged [against Wesleyan].”
Tuesday’s game against Wesleyan was a markedly different performance from the 3-1 victory Tufts earned against Colby on Saturday, where Farris scored on an assist from Kruyff just two minutes into the game. The Mules managed to keep the Jumbos off the scoreboard for the remainder of the half, but were defenseless against Capone, whose header off sophomore forward Brooke Fortin‘s cross from the right side gave Tufts a two-goal lead.
Despite conceding a goal to the Mules, making it a one-goal game, the Jumbos staved off a Colby comeback by pulling further ahead on a goal by freshman forward Mariah Harvey-Brown with less than two minutes left in the game.
The Jumbos’ attack and defense have been working hand-in-hand this season. While the attack’s 14 goals may have made the headlines, the stingy defense is credited for allowing just two goals in that stretch. The team is still not satisfied with its performance, however, as the goal from Wesleyan on Tuesday marks the first time this season an opponent scored the first goal of the game.
“We’re definitely going to take this as something to learn from and something to improve upon,” Farris said. “We’re taking it as something to come back from and not something to get upset about.”
While the tie was undoubtedly a step forward for a Wesleyan team still scrambling for its first win, the game was less of a change in momentum for Tufts as much as it was a wake-up call.
“I think [the game against Wesleyan] is definitely a wake-up call,” Ross said. “Coming from 6-0, 4-0, 3-1 games to a 1-1 tie, I think it’s a wake up call for the team in a positive way, to remind us that we are not the best and we have plenty to work on in practice. There is plenty that we learn from [Wesleyan] and as a coaching staff, we will work on those things to better our team. So it’s definitely a wake up call to get us where we want to go.”
The Jumbos are back in action on Tuesday for a home match against Suffolk before gearing up for a tilt with NESCAC rival Amherst on Saturday.