After a three game no-win streak, women’s soccer got back on track with a pair of 1-0 wins against UMass Boston on Tuesday, and NESCAC foe Bates on Saturday.
Tufts’ win over Bates — one of their final NESCAC games — was close. Junior forward Jessica Capone tapped in the winning goal early in the first half to put the Jumbos ahead. Despite strong offense from Bates late in the first half and throughout the second half, Tufts managed to hold onto its lead and win a spot in the top half of the NESCAC standings, where the Jumbos currently sit at fifth place.
The Jumbos were a force to be reckoned with on Saturday, firing off 15 shots and warranting 11 saves from Bates sophomore goal keeper Sarah McCarthy. This was in comparison to Bates’ 12 shots, only eight of which were on target.
“Those eight shots were completely unmemorable for me,” Coach Martha Whiting said. “If there were eight shots, they were right at our goal keeper, so we didn’t feel like there were any dangerous shots.”
Tufts first-year goalie Emily Bowers has started all 12 games this season.
“[Emily Bowers] played very well,” Whiting said. “When the other team does get shots, Emily Bowers has been right there where she needs to be every time.”
Toward the end of the first half, the Jumbos faced an onslaught of shots from the Bobcats and had to defend a corner kick that allowed their opponents to shoot twice on Bowers. After half time, Tufts had their own chance at a corner kick, which gave senior co-captain Nicole Campellone the opportunity to get on the scoreboard. McCarthy, however, managed to save her side from a two-goal deficit.
“We were dangerous for the majority of the game,” Campellone said. “The last five minutes of the first half, definitely Bates came out stronger. They were more aggressive, but we dominated mentally and physically … For the majority of the game we were the better team. We had possession and played really good soccer.”
Although the Jumbos didn’t succeed in pulling away on the scoreboard for the rest of the game, they came away with the difficult win.
“In the second half, Bates stepped up their energy because they were down a goal,” Capone said. “We kept shooting but shots weren’t going in [and] the goalie made some good saves. However, I think we were happy with the score because at Endicott we weren’t able to finish our chances.”
Capone was referring to the game against Endicott on Oct. 14, during which Tufts was held to a 0-0 draw despite taking 21 shots. Capone and Campellone both thought that the team had improved significantly since the draw.
“We were really dangerous up top. In the practice before we were working on a lot of attacking runs and making sure that when our outside flanks crossed the ball in that there were girls in the 18 who could get a body part on the cross,” Campellone said. “We were getting so many crosses off and so many different runs, we were very dynamic in the box that we were bound to get a goal.”
Campellone noted that the team had grown to 24 members, compared to 19 last year. With 10 new first-years, she highlighted the importance of her and co-captain Emily Morton’s roles in making their new teammates feel like real members of the team and helping them create strong relationships with veteran players. The first-year additions to the team have been important in maintaining the standard of play, even with the onslaught of injuries to starters.
“As the season goes on injuries arise, but with our numbers we’ve been able to sustain our level of play through the injuries,” Whiting said. “We have enough talented players behind the starting players to maintain that level.”
The Jumbos prepare to face Williams, who currently sit at the top of the NESCAC, and Bowdoin, who is tied with Trinity for second place in the conference. If Tufts manages a win against either opponent, they might be able to bolster their position in the conference and propel themselves into a top-four spot, where they will have home field advantage for tournament matches next month.
“We will continue to focus on our possession, maintaining possession during the flow of play and our ability to get after the ball in the 18-yard box both defensively and offensively,” Whiting said. “This time of year the most important thing is rest, and its important that we get enough rest so that we’re energized and ready to go for the next game.”
With their final two regular season matches set to be against last season’s conference winner and runner up, the Jumbos will have to be at their peak both mentally and physically.