Tufts falls 3-0 in quarterfinal loss to Bowdoin

Tufts senior co-captain and defender Nicole Campellone attempts to steal the ball from a Lesley player on Sept. 9. Evan Sayles / Tufts Daily Archive

Bowdoin senior forward Jamie Hofstetter and classmate midfielder Maggie Godley, the architects of their team’s win over Tufts less than a week before, were once again key in their 3-0 win over the weekend. Hofstetter finished the game with a goal and two assists, while Godley scored the opening goal in just the eighth minute, receiving the ball inside the box from Hofstetter and taking a touch left before calmly slotting it into the corner. It was the third year in a row that Tufts played Bowdoin in the first round of the NESCAC tournament, with Tufts winning 2-1 in 2013 and losing 4-0 in 2014.

After conceding early against the Williams Ephs and the Bowdoin Polar Bears just a week before, the Jumbos were looking to make a good start against opponents that, after playing them close in their previous match-up, they felt they could beat.

“The regular season game [was] so close and we knew we played well,” senior co-captain center-back Nicole Campellone said. “We also knew we had potential to play so much better, so everyone was actually really confident going into the quarterfinal game.”

The early goal appeared to focus and sharpen their game, and after going behind early in a few games this season, the Jumbos tried to use their experience playing catch up to their advantage.

The intense pressure on the Polar Bears’ goal by the Jumbos throughout the first half almost resulted in more than a few goals. Junior forward Jess Capone, the focal point for the Tufts attack, repeatedly made good runs in behind the Bowdoin defense and offered a good target for crosses into the box, which were delivered tirelessly by the Tufts wide midfielders. Despite being behind, the half was very much controlled by the Jumbos, who ended the first 45 minutes with eight shots to the Polar Bears’ six.

“At halftime I 100 percent would have rather been on Tufts than on Bowdoin,” senior forward Allie Weiller said. “We were definitely outplaying them; [in fact] it was some of the best soccer we’ve played all season, but sometimes, unfortunately, the score doesn’t necessarily show how the game was played.”

The Jumbos came out with a sense of urgency in the second half with their season on the line. Early pressure from the Polar Bears drew two saves from first-year keeper Emily Bowers, whose heroics have kept Tufts in games throughout the season. Hofstetter’s goal came off a poorly hit free kick in the defensive half that was easily picked off and fed through to her feet at the top of the box. Bowdoin’s forward had time to settle her feet and calmly strike a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner.

Just minutes later, Bowers again saved low to the ground only to have the rebound tapped in by sophomore back Jill Rathke. As the time winded down, Campellone and Weiller tested both the Bowdoin keeper and the integrity of the crossbar, with their fierce shots stinging the palms of the keeper and rattling the woodwork. Ultimately, Bowdoin withstood the pressure to keep a clean sheet and ended Tufts’ season with a 3-0 shutout.

“To be honest, I would rather have lost 3-0 than 1-0,” Weiller said. “We pushed up and really went for it because we had nothing to lose. The late goals were a result of us pushing up the field, and if the game had ended 1-0, I think we would have been frustrated with ourselves for not going for it hard enough. A loss at this point ends the season anyways, so it’s good to know that we gave it our all.”

Tufts finishes the season 6-8-2, while the second-seeded Bowdoin heads into its next match: the NESCAC semifinals against Trinity, who hold an 11-4-1 record. The Jumbos end the season with a defensive record of just 19 goals allowed over all 16 games but can only boast of 14 goals on the offensive end over that same stretch, winning many games by small margins.

“Some people say that defense is the best offense, but at the end of the day you have to score to win,” Weiller said. “[It was] tough hitting the crossbar or post, or [the ball] would fly just left of the goal or the goalie would get a tip on it. I think all of us were just waiting for it to fall and to start going in the goal, and it was really unlucky that it just never seemed to happen.”

The future for the women’s soccer program is bright, with 10 first-year players on the team this year. However, the loss marked the end of Campellone, Weiller and co-captain keeper Emily Morton’s college careers.

“It’s bittersweet, obviously, but I couldn’t be more excited about the team in the upcoming years,” Morton said. “They’re going to have so much success, and they’re perfectly set up to excel in the NESCAC and even beyond. We’ve built a really strong foundation as a team for them to really get the job done next year, and I can’t wait to see where it takes them.”

First-year players such as midfielder pair Emma Ranalli and Sarah Grubman, winger Alessandra Sadler and goalkeeper Emily Bowers all played significant roles on the team this year, and the team’s leading scorer, Capone, will also be returning.

“Our thing this year was to always fight to get the next goal, to get the next win, to get the next 50/50 ball, and that was the most important thing for us — to fight back and never give up until the final whistle,” Weiller said. “[When I look back on] the people I played with when I was a freshman and the people I play with now, we’re all a part of this legacy that I get to hold onto for the rest of my life.”