Strong offensive performances notch Tufts a pair of NESCAC wins

Tufts players defend the goal during a 16-8 win against Claremont-M-S on March 15. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

The Jumbos (5-3, 2-3 NESCAC ) won both conference games they played in the first week of April. Victories over the Conn. College Camels (1-7, 0-5) and the Williams Ephs (4-5, 1-4) gave the team its first wins in what has been a highly competitive NESCAC season thus far.

On March 28, before Tufts’ wins against Conn. College and Williams, sophomore attacker and Tufts’ second-leading scorer Dakota Adamec explained that conference match-ups are often volatile and always hard-fought.

“We understand that the NESCAC is one of the most competitive conferences in Div. III and we do have teams that have been national champions or [that have] been to the final four, but we always try to go into the game thinking that everything is going to be a battle because it usually is,” Adamec said.

On the Wednesday, trip to Williams, Tufts won a high scoring affair 18-11. After nearly 15 minutes of scoreless play, Tufts struck first, as first-year attacker Emily Games scored on an unassisted shot. The goal ignited the Jumbos’ offense as they scored eight more times in the first period, including three more unassisted goals from Games and two scores each from Adamec and junior attacker Taylor Meek. The visitors entered the half with a comfortable 9-3 lead.

Games explained that while the Jumbos weren’t happy with the start of the first half, that didn’t change their mindset.

“After we got a few goals in it really picked up our momentum and everybody was eager to keep the offense going,” Games said. “We really just had to focus on getting the draw.”

Williams’ offense mustered only three first-half goals — one each from sophomore midfielders Korinna Garfield, Emma Tenbarge and Eliza Quigley — as it struggled to handle the pressure from a staunch Tufts defense. On the occasions when the Ephs were able to get the ball deep into the Jumbos’ territory, they struggled to connect on more than a few passes and sent a number of shots flying harmlessly over the net.

The Ephs’ offense came alive in the second period, as they matched Tufts goal for goal for much of the half. This scoring was largely on the backs of senior midfielder Jenna Chodos and sophomore attacker/midfielder Suzanna Penikis, the second- and fourth-leading scorers on Williams’ team, respectively. The Ephs getting more scoring opportunities in the second half may have been due to the increase in turnovers from just five by the Jumbos in the first half to 12 in the second. However despite this boost, the Ephs never reduced the deficit to less than five, because they could not stop the Jumbos from scoring. Games added four goals and Meek added three in the second half. In reaching a total of eight goals, Games tied the program’s single-game scoring record.

Williams did in fact have eight free position shots as opposed to just three for Tufts, and those eight shots allowed them to convert on three of their goals for the day.

Tufts hits the road this weekend to face off against the Hamilton Continentals (6-4, 4-2 in conference) on Saturday and the Cortland State Red Dragons (6-2, 1-0 in conference) on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Jumbos took down the visiting Camels, 17-4. Tufts struck first with a goal from sophomore midfielder Cecily Freliech just a minute-and-a-half into the game, followed by an equalizing goal from Conn. College’s  junior attacker Annie Cornbrooks nearly eight minutes later. The rest of the first half was all Tufts, however, as it rattled off eight unanswered goals. Three came from Games and two from Adamec.

The second half played out in a similar way, as Tufts outscored Conn. College, 8-3. The Jumbos’ offense particularly got rolling during a seven-minute period from the 27:25 mark to the 20:37 mark in which they scored six goals and the Camels scored none. Overall, the Jumbos dominated this game offensively with a 37-13 shot advantage and controlled possession by winning 16 of the 23 total draw controls.

Games explained that those seven minutes are what Tufts sees as the ideal way its offense can operate.

“I think our coach has wanted since the beginning of the season for our attacking strategy to be a lot quicker and so we are looking for the fast break when we get down the field. We are getting off the draw controls quickly and looking to the goal,” Games said. “Just looking for that first opportunity has helped our team move a lot quicker on the attack.”