Tufts falls to Wesleyan, drops below .500 in NESCAC play

Players on both teams try to catch the ball during Tufts' 16-8 win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on March 15. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

Playing in just one game over the last week, an at-home conference match-up against No. 17 Wesleyan, No. 20 Tufts (9-5, 4-5 conference) fell in a lopsided affair with a score of 15-8. The Jumbos now sit at just seventh in the NESCAC less than a week before the conference tournament begins.

Tufts began the game strong, matching Wesleyan goal for goal in the first eight-and-a-half minutes, as junior midfielder Caroline Nowak put two up on the board early. With 17:56 on the clock and their second free position goal of the game, sophomore midfielder Cecily Freliech put the Jumbos up by onebut it was the only time they would lead.

“We were pretty neck-and-neck for the first five or six minutes, but once a poor call by the refs was made we kind of got down on ourselves and we tried to recover, but we just weren’t clicking,” sophomore attacker Dakota Adamec said. “We have played their defense before, but it was just a sense of panic that we had.”

Wesleyan proceeded to score seven straight goals without an answer from Tufts. This run was largely due to the Cardinals winning seven of the next eight draw controls after the Jumbos’ go-ahead goal.

The Jumbos were outshot in the first half 15-9, and the Cardinals scored four of their first half goals on free position shots.

The second half was a different story for the Jumbos offensively, as they moved the ball much better and outshot the Cardinals 17-8. However, those extra shots and the greater possession time did not translate into much more offensive production. Tufts still scored only five goals in the second half and was still outscored by Wesleyan, which managed to put up six goals on just eight shots.

Because they were unable to slow down the Cardinal offense, the Jumbos never pulled within six goals, falling behind by 10 at one point. Tufts scored two goals in the last 90 seconds of the game on plays from sophomore midfielder Annie Sullivan and Adamec. But these were just consolation, as the outcome was already decided by that point.

Nowak led the Jumbos in scoring for the game with four goals, upping her goal total to 14 for the season. Tufts and Wesleyan were fairly even in total turnovers and draw controls for the game, but Tufts only recorded four saves for the entire game, while Wesleyan recorded 10.

Saturday was senior night for Tufts as the four seniors on the roster — attacker Kate Mackin, defender Olivia Veillette, attacker Caroline Kingsley and defender Casey Briody — were all honored. The four seniors served as quad-captains this year and played a vital role in bringing together the relatively young team.

First-year attacker Emily Games explained that the seniors on the team played a pivotal role in helping the team develop this year.

“I think all of the [first-years] on the team would agree that our seniors have been a tremendous help in our transition into college both on and off the field,” Games told the Daily in an email. “I’m definitely going to miss them next year.”

With just one game remaining in the regular season, a conference match-up against No. 16 Bowdoin, the Jumbos are hoping to bring their conference record back up to .500, which would match the 5-5 record they posted last season.

Adamec explained that the mental battle will be a key part of the game against Bowdoin.

“Bowdoin is definitely similar to Wesleyan [in that] they have been doing well this season. A couple of games ago they beat Middlebury, which was number one in the NESCAC for some time,” Adamec said “It’s going to be another battle and it’s going to be neck-and-neck. So it is going to be another mental game about who is going to show up.”

Bowdoin currently sits one spot above Tufts in the NESCAC rankings, and this match-up will give Tufts an important opportunity to improve its seeding as the team prepares for the NESCAC tournament this weekend.

“The NESCAC is a very competitive conference, and so playing in the tournament is a great opportunity for us to match up against teams we’ve played before,” Games wrote. “[W]e like to take every game one at a time, so right now, while we know how important the tournament is, our focus is on our next game, which is Wednesday against Bowdoin.”