Jumbos expand win streak with vital conference victory

Sophomore defender Hedy Veith misses the ball during Tufts' 16-8 win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on March 15. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

Tufts stretched its winning streak to four on Tuesday as it captured key conference wins over Amherst and Bates to improve its record to 9-4 overall.

The Jumbos pulled out a tight win over the Bobcats, 13-10 on Tuesday. The game was a back-and-forth affair, as Tufts opened the scoring on a goal from sophomore attacker Dakota Adamec, but Bates seized control of the game with three straight goals in response. In total, the lead changed seven times in the contest before the Jumbos gained the upper hand behind five second-half goals from first-year attacker Emily Games. The win improved Tufts to an even 4-4 in the NESCAC, while Bates fell to 1-7 in the conference.

Coming into Saturday’s game against Amherst off two impressive victories, including one against heavily favored SUNY Cortland, Tufts seemed confident and composed.

“The Cortland game definitely showed us how we are capable of playing and set the tone for a fast and intense style of play the rest of the season,” senior quad-captain Kate Mackin told the Daily in an email. “We pushed the transition and fast break the whole length of the field and focused on riding hard and causing turnovers in transition.”

The No. 18 ranked Jumbos did just that against the Amherst Mammoths, looking sharp from the start as they jumped out to a quick lead. After senior attacker Caroline Kingsley won the first draw control, Tufts immediately pushed the ball down the field, leading to a goal from Games just over 20 seconds into the game. The Mammoths managed to even the score about two minutes later, but the rest of the first half was all about the Jumbos as they scored six straight goals with three more from Games and two from Adamec. Amherst finally broke Tufts’ momentum by putting one in the net on a free position shot with 2:25 to go in the first half. However, Tufts still headed to the locker room with a comfortable 7-2 lead.

Amherst came out fast in the second, winning the first draw control and scoring just one minute into the half. The Mammoths could not turn that goal into any momentum, however, because after the six-and-a-half minutes of scoreless play that followed, the Jumbos added three more goals to their lead in quick succession. Junior midfielder Caroline Nowak, Games and Adamec all scored in a period of 1:45 and Tufts was up 10-3.

Amherst was forced to play short-handed twice in the first half after it was dealt two yellow cards. The Jumbos capitalized on both these chances, demonstrating their ability to transition the ball quickly and make the most of both opportunities.

While the game seemed to be won, Amherst did not give in. It scored four goals over the next 17 minutes to cut the lead to 10-7, and while it never got close enough to truly threaten Tufts’ lead, it was an important test of Tufts’ resilience and ability to close a game. Responding to the Amherst run, with 1:38 remaining, Nowak iced the game on a free position goal that put the final exclamation point on the win.

The Jumbos won the turnover battle 20-13 and also managed to outshoot the Mammoths 25-21. This comes as a slight surprise given that the Jumbos only won six of the 20 total draw controls, limiting their ability to dominate possession. However, their win was a testament to the Jumbos’ ability to create turnovers and transition quickly from the defense to the attack.

Games led the team in scoring again for the game, putting in five total goals and bringing her season total up to 36, the most on the team. Adamec scored three of her own as well to bring her season goal total to 28 for second on the team. Games and Adamec, along with Mackin (24 goals on the season for third on the team), have led the Jumbos’ offense all year. Despite the volume of these players’ contributions, the team believes it has a well-rounded attack that has been facilitated by their up-tempo play this year. The numbers back this up as well. The Jumbos have had 18 different players score in games this year, including six who have scored in the double digits for their season total.

“We have 31 players on the roster. We want to have everyone contributing,” Mackin said. “It’s good to know that if someone is having an off day, we have so many girls on the team who are ready to play.”

After a slow start to the conference season that saw them come out 0-3, the Jumbos are hoping to capitalize on their next two games with a chance to improve upon their conference record of 5-5 last season. Senior quad-captain Olivia Veillette said that the Jumbos have felt all season that their team this year has the potential to do just that.

“We did obviously lose some really valuable players last year but we also gained a ton of talented freshmen,” Veillette said.

Next up, Tufts has No. 20 Wesleyan at home on Saturday followed by a match-up with No. 16 Bowdoin at home on Wednesday. Last season, Tufts beat both of those teams, defeating Wesleyan 13-10 and Bowdoin 17-8. 

As they have said all season, the Jumbos are not intimidated by any NESCAC teams and the high rankings do not faze them.

“As always, we are really eager to play [NESCAC opponents]. Every NESCAC game is up in the air. You never know who is going to win and who is going to come out on top,” Games said. “I think just every game is very difficult in the NESCAC.”