11/20/16 – Medford/Somerville, MA – Sophomore midfielder/back Zachary Trevorrow races with the ball in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA DIII men's soccer tournament on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016. (Evan Sayles for Tufts Athletics)

Men’s Soccer: Jumbos start season with three consecutive shutouts and two overtime goals

Tufts remains undefeated in a tremendous start to the season after two overtime wins at home against Babson and Colby, before recording a 4–0 win at Plymouth State. In the process of three straight wins to open the season, the Jumbos also remain solid at the back, yet to concede a goal this season.

On Sunday, the Jumbos defeated the Plymouth State Panthers with a resounding 4–0 victory. The Jumbos scored two goals in each half, and had outshot the Panthers 19 to three. Senior goaltender Bruce Johnson was not kept busy, only having to make one save in the game, while Plymouth senior goaltender Jimmy Mansour kept the scoreline lower than what it could have been, making seven saves in the game. Sophomore midfielder/defender Zachary Trevorrow netted the first goal of the game for the Jumbos at 26:23 in the first, assisted by first-year midfielder Travis Van Brewer. Soon after, Van Brewer had his own scoring opportunity, but it went wide of the goalmouth.

Nearing the end of the first, Tufts furthered its lead with a goal from first-year defender/midfielder Calvin Aroh at 40:41. The Jumbos continued where they left off, as sophomore midfielder/forward Gavin Tasker netted the third goal of the game and his second of the season only two-and-a-half minutes into the second half, assisted by sophomore midfielder Brett Rojas. Three minutes later, senior midfielder Kevin Halliday scored the final goal of the game.

The day before, Tufts hosted its second home game against Colby. The match remained a 0–0 draw throughout regulation despite numerous scoring opportunities for the Jumbos. Van Brewer was accountable for multiple chances, with a shot soaring over the crossbar towards the end of the half, followed by a corner kick that lingered in the 18 without any Jumbos able to capitalize.

“It’s our first conference game of the year and we tied [Colby] 1–1 last year,” Tasker said. “Historically they are always a solid team so we definitely had to bring our A game.”

In the second half, the Tufts defense proved infallible with the leadership of senior co-captain defender Conor Coleman, limiting Colby to just three shots and no real scoring chances. The majority of the second was played on the Colby half as Tufts generated six shots on net and 12 total for the game as opposed to six total shots from Colby. The Jumbos wore down the Mules by applying immense pressure up top led by sophomore forward Joe Braun. As the second half came to a close with the game still at a 0–0 draw, junior co-captain defender Sterling Weatherbie found himself isolated with the ball at the halfway line, and while his teammates crashed the net he took a shot that hit the crossbar from midfield in the final seconds. 

The team continued to pressure Colby into the overtime period, generating four shots in six minutes as the ball scarcely passed midfield into Tufts territory. In the seventh minute of overtime play following a foul on Halliday in the penalty area, Tufts earned a penalty kick. Coleman stepped up to the mark, placing the shot in the bottom right corner with ease and earning the first home in-conference victory.

On Wednesday the team opened up its season in the pouring rain at home against Babson in another nail-biting match. Trevorrow created multiple chances on the wing for the Jumbos throughout the game, including a left cross into the box with 16 minutes left but unfortunately no one was there to follow through.

“We dominated possession and kept it in their half for the majority of the first,” Trevorrow said. “Our big chances came in the second half, we had struggled a little bit to get the ball to create opportunities and we did better in the second with possession and dominated the tempo again. We started winning first and second balls and we pretty much dominated as much in the first as we did in the second half.”

The second half opened with an early shot from Weatherbie which went just under the crossbar, forcing the Babson goalie to tip it over the net. Babson was on the defensive for the majority of the second half and only took one shot on goal compared to Tufts’ eight. Finally, with 30 seconds left in the match, Tasker sent a cross into the box from the left and first-year midfielder/forward Alex Ratzan netted the ball in what seemed like a tremendous victory, but before the celebration was over the goal was revoked as Ratzan was called offside.

“I mean I thought it was controversial, but even at the time I thought ‘Yeah, I could’ve been offside but I didn’t think I was,’” Tasker said. “Looking back at the film it is still hard to say. I think that the ref made his call and we had to move on with the decision.”

However, the duo was not to be denied. Within the first minute of overtime, a cross from the left side into the Babson box caused chaos, and as the ball rebounded to the left corner, Ratzan turned provider as he struck the ball to the right corner of the goalmouth for Tasker to tap in the team’s first goal of the season and solidified the first victory.

“We entered overtime reassuring each other and saying we’ve been here before because we played in a lot of overtime games last year,” Tasker said. “The national championship final was in overtime, and we felt like we had the upper edge at that point just because we have been there before. But for it to end so quickly was a bit of a surprise and a shock to everybody — a shock to myself — that the ball went in the back of the net.”

The team will take on Conn. College on Sept. 16 and Trinity on Sept. 17 for a weekend of conference home games.

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