Jumbos suffer tough loss to Panthers, look to bounce back against Mules

Sophomore midfielder Maddy Schwarz runs alongside an opponent during Tufts' 16-8 win against Claremont-M-S on Mar 15, 2017. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

Tufts jumped right into its season with two games over the last week, facing off against No. 1 ranked Middlebury on Sunday and then against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on Wednesday.

After losing to Middlebury, the Jumbos knew they had to regroup heading into this week’s game, according to senior quad-captain Olivia Veillette. 

“On Sunday, we didn’t play together as a team. There were some strong individual efforts, but on both the defensive and attacking ends, we weren’t working together,” Veillette told the Daily in an email. “Middlebury took advantage of that from the start and we just didn’t adjust.”

She explained how the team adjusted during practices that followed the loss.

“We recognize it’s still early in the season, so playing together as a team and setting each other up for success is something we will be focusing on from here on out,” Veillette wrote.

On the other hand, during the game against CMS, the Jumbos were more successful at playing together as a team.

I think we executed that in [Wednesday’s] game because our transition looked great as all players on the field were involved,” Veillette wrote. “We looked like we trusted each other out there so we were able to play fast and take control of the game.”

Indeed, on Wednesday, Tufts jumped out to a quick lead, scoring eight of the first nine goals during the first 20 minutes. Four of those goals were scored by senior quad-captain attacker Kate Mackin, two coming unassisted, and three were scored by sophomore attacker Dakota Adamec. Both teams traded goals for the rest of the half, and the Jumbos headed to the locker room with a 10-4 lead.

Coming out in the second half, junior midfielder Evan Murphy scored for CMS just over a minute into the half, cutting the lead to five. However, five is as close as the Athenas would get as the Jumbos continued to pour in the goals, ending the game with a 6-3 run to win 16-8.

A major highlight of the game was Mackin’s performance. She added three more goals in the second half to her five from the first. Scoring eight goals in total, Mackin became the fourth Tufts player to ever score that many goals in a game, and the first Tufts player to do so since 1996.

Both Mackin and Adamec have propelled much of team’s offense so far this season. Combined, the two players account for nearly two-thirds of the team’s scoring thus far.

Unfortunately, during the game against Middlebury, Tufts was overwhelmed by the powerful offense of its opponent. On average, Middlebury offense scores over 15 shots per game on barely 30 shots. The team also ranks as the 22nd highest scoring offense in the country, whereas Tufts does not even rank in the top 100. 

In contrast to their game against CMS, the Jumbos got down early against Middlebury, finding themselves in a 7-1 hole after less than 15 minutes of play. Despite rallying the offense slightly with goals from Mackin and Adamec, the Jumbos still headed into the locker room with a seven point deficit, down 11-4. The second half continued similarly, and Tufts found itself on the bad end of a 15-6 loss against the reigning national champions.

The team differs greatly this year from last year’s roster, featuring much more depth and youth and a new up-tempo playing style. With these changes, road bumps are to be expected, especially when playing against powerhouse teams such as Middlebury.

However, these bumps have not shaken the Jumbos’ confidence in their new team and playing style, according to Veillette. She explained how the team will continue to focus on their game plan this season.

“Focusing on playing fast this year has helped our game,” she wrote. “The mistakes we made during the Middlebury game weren’t because we were pushing the pace; they were mainly fundamental and team problems. We pushed the pace tonight with speed and moving the ball in the air and it worked well.”

The Jumbos will next face off against the Colby Mules at home tomorrow in their second NESCAC game of the season.

Adamec stressed that the team hopes to make a big mark in the NESCAC this year.

“All year, we’ve been getting the freshmen amped up not only for Middlebury but for all the NESCAC games,” Adamec said.  “One of our goals this year is to be a dominant force in the NESCAC, we’ve been preparing all year for this, and we can’t wait to see how well we do.”