Tufts rebounded from Saturday’s narrow 3-2 defeat at Middlebury to defeat Endicott 4-0 in Tufts’ penultimate home game of the season on Tuesday. The four-point margin of victory on Tuesday was Tufts’ largest since defeating Suffolk 10-0 back in Sept. 2014. The Jumbos’ record now stands at 5-3-3 overall and 3-2-1 in NESCAC play.
On Tuesday, the Jumbos recorded their fifth victory of the season as they defeated the Endicott Gulls (9-2-2). Junior forward Mariah Harvey-Brown led Tufts with seven shots, while senior co-captain midfielder Robin Estus followed up with six of her own. The Jumbos peppered the Gulls with 32 shots, including 19 on goal. Sophomore keeper Emily Bowers played just under 78 minutes, and had to make only one save on three Gulls shots. This was the Jumbos’ fifth shutout of the season, including a Sept. 21 0-0 tie with Wesleyan.
“We came out blazing and really had the desire to finish strong, not have any defensive lapses, but scoring goals on goals,” Bowers said. “We’re a good team, everyone sees that, but unfortunately we don’t capitalize on the opportunities we have, but against Endicott we scored a lot of goals and that’s always a great thing. Everyone was just getting after it on every position on the field.”
Tufts junior midfielder Margaret Zahrah got things going just past the half-hour mark, having been played in by Harvey-Brown. Zahrah put her shot past Endicott junior goalkeeper Caroline Armbruster for Tufts’ first score. Armbruster was kept busy as she was forced to make eight saves in the first half.
Tufts tightened the screws in the second half. A misplaced pass by Endicott’s backline was quickly intercepted by Harvey-Brown after 61 minutes to double the Jumbos’ lead. Senior forward Jess Capone then capitalized on Armbruster’s fumble of Estus’ free kick. Capone smashed the ball into the top corner to give the Jumbos a 3-0 lead. She then scored a second goal just four minutes later, once again converting off of a pass from Estus. Capone finished the neat one-two move to give Tufts its largest margin of victory of the season.
“Endicott is not a bad team, they’re 9-1 coming into that game [on Tuesday] … we went out and wanted to set the tone, and that’s one of our main goals every game, but 32 shots, that’s something to be really happy [about],” Estus said. “We recognized our chances and we went for them. We put away four goals which is the second-most we’ve had all season, and we denied their chances time after time. I think it was one of our best showings of the season, so that’s a huge confidence boost after the weekend. Beating a team like that which we’ve historically had a problem of beating, and by that margin, was a really good feeling.”
Tuesday’s result was a welcome recovery from the narrow 3-2 defeat the team suffered against Middlebury on Saturday. Tufts held possession for most of the game, but was unable to regularly register shots on goal. The Jumbos only managed to get four away (two on goal) compared to the Panthers’ 16 (seven on goal). The Jumbos did, however, take the lead first through sophomore midfielder Emma Ranalli’s free kick 27 minutes in. Her shot out of the reach of Panthers senior goalkeeper Kate Reinmuth put Tufts on the board.
In a back and forth game, Middlebury turned things around in the second half. After 56 minutes, Panthers sophomore defender Sara DiCenso played sophomore defender and midfielder Alex Barber through, who in turn floated the ball past Bowers from about 20 yards out to level the game. Tufts re-took the lead on Harvey-Brown’s goal on 72 minutes, as she headed home sophomore midfielder Sarah Grubman’s cross from the right side of the field.
Six and a half minutes later, the Panthers levelled again. Senior forward Adrianna Gildner found space in the box to tap in quad-captain senior forward Amanda Hotvedt’s center. Then, right at the end, the Panthers stole victory with less than two minutes to play. Gildner followed through after a shot from senior quad-captain midfielder Katherine Hobbs bounced into her path to get her sixth goal of the season and serve the Jumbos their third defeat of the season.
“Middlebury was overall disappointing for all of us players and coaches,” coach Martha Whiting said. “It was a game where I felt like we played very well for about 95 percent of the time, and in that five percent of the time where we didn’t play so well, they were able to score two goals, and that was the frustrating part about it. We didn’t feel like it was anything they did that really led them to win the game. It was almost like we did ourselves in by a few mistakes and their attacking build-up. You know, if you make too many mistakes in a short amount of time, it’s typically going to come back to get you.”
The Jumbos have four conference games remaining and, currently placed sixth in the NESCAC, are in a tight race to climb up the rankings to get a favorable home draw for the postseason tournament. Up next for Tufts is a NESCAC doubleheader away at Conn. College on Saturday and at Trinity on Sunday. Given how tight the standings are, every game takes on an increasing importance.
“It’s huge – [they’re] going to be very important games. We’re trying not to focus on who we’re playing and what their record is, but since they’re all NESCAC games, it’s crucial we get the wins,” Bowers said. “But we’re just going to focus on how we play as a team … and we have faith that anything is possible if we play to our strengths. With Trinity and Conn. College, they’re definitely strong, they give us a battle every year, so it’s going to be a challenging weekend given that it’s a double header too and that we’re on the road, but I’ve no doubt that [we’ll] do well.”
Estus said the team remains calm ahead of its final stretch of regular season games.
“Obviously we want to win every game, but we don’t ever feel pressure to win, because that’s when we play uptight,” Estus said. “We want to win, as the chances of hosting a home play-off game would be higher, but we’re not concerned [about] winning or losing right now – we’re just concentrating on playing the best soccer we can. If we do that, the results will follow.”