Field hockey sweeps pair of NESCAC opponents

Tufts forward Gigi Tutoni, a junior, rushes ahead of a Trinity defender in the game against the Trinity College Bantams on Sept. 17. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)

Following last week’s emotional 2–3 overtime loss to No. 6 Babson, No. 1 Tufts faced two critical games against NESCAC opponents. The team responded with a vengeance, defeating Conn. College 5–0, and Trinity 3–1, on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

“You learn a lot when you lose,” sophomore goalie Samantha Ward said. “I think we did a good job of taking the things we did well [against Babson] and doing them even better, and improving on the things we didn’t do as well.”

On Sunday, Tufts played host to No. 12 Trinity, which — despite its lofty ranking — struggled to begin the season, losing two of its first three games. The Jumbos proceeded to overwhelm the Bantams early on, scoring three goals in the first half hour.

Junior forward Gigi Tutoni opened the scoring fewer than five minutes in, converting a corner off of a feed from senior midfielder Celia Lewis. The goal was Tutoni’s third of the year, and second in as many games. Tufts’ second goal also came via a set play, with junior forward Hanaa Malik redirecting a shot past Trinity senior goalie Lori Berger. Senior forward Mary Travers added a third in the 28th minute, diving to tip a shot from Malik past Berger. The goal increased Travers’ season tally to three, tied with Tutoni for the team lead.

“They’re doing a great job,” Ward said. “Whether it’s Gigi [Tutoni], or Celia [Lewis], or [sophomore midfielder] Marguerite [Salamone], they all work really well together.”

The three-goal cushion was more than enough for the Jumbos, and they saw out the remainder of the game with solid — and at times, spectacular — defensive play. At the stroke of halftime, Tufts junior goalie Emily Polinski was caught out of her net, but senior midfielder Erin Sanders came up with a miraculous stop on the goal line to deny Trinity a potentially momentum-shifting goal.

Senior forward Kelcie Finn converted a penalty stroke for the Bantams in the 49th minute to narrow the deficit to two goals, but that was as close as the visitors would get. Polinski, with eight saves in the game, made several diving stops in the second half to preserve the victory.

“I’ve been really proud of Emily [Polinski],” coach Tina Mattera said. “She had a great year last year, and she knows she can be even better this year.”

The Jumbos pushed the Bantams’ defense for all 70 minutes, taking 19 shots and earning nine penalty corners compared to only 12 and three respectively. The Jumbos had clearly carried their momentum from Saturday’s hammering of the Conn. College Camels.

The previous day, Tufts dominated a visiting Conn. College side, winning 5–0. With five different players scoring goals, the Jumbos featured a well-rounded attack, and their defense — while seldom called upon — was stellar when it had to be.

Senior co-captain Mary Kate Patton opened the scoring after 5:38, sliding a shot past the Camels’ first-year goalie, Andi McGraw. Roughly 14 minutes later, McGraw saved a shot from Travers, but Lewis pounced on the rebound and slotted it home to open up a two-goal lead. The goal was Lewis’ second of the season, as the Houston, Texas native also scored in the loss to Babson.

Despite the early lead, the Jumbos refused to take their foot off the gas. Malik notched her first goal of the season in the 24th minute, redirecting a long-range effort by Lewis into the back of the net. Tutoni added a fourth goal just two minutes into the second half, again tipping a shot from distance. Junior midfielder Claire Trilling rounded out the scoring in the 41st minute with a great individual effort.

In all, the Jumbos bombarded McGraw with 32 shots, 14 of them on target. Tutoni led the way with six shots, four on target. Meanwhile, Polinski had to make just one save thanks to the defense of junior Issy Del Priore, senior Amanda Weeks and senior co-captain Ellexa Thomas. 

Next up for Tufts (3-1, 3-0 NESCAC) is a visit to MIT on Wednesday. Despite their close proximity, the two schools haven’t faced each other since 2009, when the Jumbos prevailed 5-1 in the NCAA Tournament. The Engineers narrowly missed out on a top 20 ranking in the most recent Div. III coaches’ poll.

“Tina [Mattera] does a good job of [putting together] a competitive schedule,” Ward said. “We want to take everything we did well this weekend, and hopefully we can repeat the success we had.”