At home on Kraft Field, the Jumbos (7–3–3 overall, 5–1–2 NESCAC) fell 1–0 to the Lesley Lynx (11–2–2 overall) in a closely contested non conference matchup on Tuesday. The game was locked dead even until Lesley’s junior forward Samantha Bessey scored the lone goal in the eighth minute of overtime to earn her side the victory.
Heading into the contest, Tufts understood that Lesley — undefeated in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) — would be a formidable opponent.
“This is a team we’ve struggled with in the past,” junior co-captain midfielder Emma Ranalli said. “We knew we were in for a tough battle.”
The Jumbos applied pressure early on the Lynx. From a corner kick in the fourth minute of the game, Tufts’ sophomore midfielder Sarah Maloney headed a shot that just missed over the top of the goal. Yet the visitors were quick to respond five minutes later, with Lesley’s senior midfielder Karlie Rubin firing a shot that was saved by Tufts’ junior goalkeeper Emily Bowers.
The Jumbos and Lynx continued to exchange several shots throughout the first half, yet both sides were unable to convert their opportunities. In the 41st minute, Lesley’s leading scorer and junior midfielder Jordan Mitchell launched a shot at goal, but Bowers dove right to stave off the attempt.
Moving into the second half, the Jumbos began to fire on all cylinders and registered 13 shots, of which five were on goal. In the 64th minute, junior defender Taylor Koscho forced Lesley’s senior goalkeeper Lilly Donovan to spring upward to save the ball. Later, in the 72nd minute, junior forward Alessandra Sadler nailed a shot off a pass by first-year midfielder Sophie Lloyd, grazing the ball off the crossbar over the goal.
With four minutes remaining in regulation, first-year forward Elizabeth Reed darted past a Lesley defender to take a shot. Donovan dove to save the ball and keep the game scoreless through the opening 90 minutes.
Just over seven minutes into sudden-death overtime, and despite the spirited effort from the Jumbos, Bessey broke through the defense and belted the ball past a diving Bowers to finish the game with a 1–0 Lesley victory.
Although Tufts held the upper hand in shots (18–10) and corners (4–1), they were unable to capitalize and break through Lesley’s stalwart defense. The Lynx‘s goalkeeper Donovan made six saves, while the Jumbos’ goalkeeper Bowers also held her own with an impressive five saves throughout the match.
“I think we exposed them at times but just couldn’t finish,” Ranalli said. “We knew it was going to be a close game, and one goal was going to make the difference, but they’re a tough team.”
The Saturday before losing to Lesley, Tufts surged to a 3–0 silencing of the Bates Bobcats (6–6–1, 2–5–1 NESCAC), marking the Jumbos’ third consecutive win. Heading into the final stretch of the season, Ranalli articulated the importance of building a winning streak.
“It’s been good to get the momentum,” Ranalli said. “Before this three-win streak we hadn’t won two games in a row. It was really big for us to prove that we can consistently get the results. It’s the direction you want to be heading at the end of the season.”
The Jumbos raced out of the gates with their ruthless offense, leading the Bobcats in shots (13–4) and corners (6–3) in the first half. Yet while Tufts was playing well tactically, the team initially struggled to convert and put the ball in the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes.
First-year midfielder Hannah Isenhart detailed how the Jumbos adjusted their mentality heading into the second half.
“Throughout the season we’ve been working on knowing that we can finish a game and that we can score,” she said. “In our halftime speech, we talked about getting out there and scoring, and that’s exactly what we did.”
In the 48th minute, Reed rifled the ball from 20 yards out into the top right corner of the net to put Tufts on the board. Just nine minutes later, Sadler brought the ball up to the box and passed it to Lloyd, who slid the shot past Bates’ senior co-captain goalkeeper Sarah McCarthy for a 2–0 lead.
Reed scored another goal in the 65th minute, putting the Jumbos up 3–0. Notably, all three goals in the game came from first-years.
“Our first-years have killed it on the field,” Ranalli said.
Reed was recognized this week as NESCAC Player of the Week for scoring four goals across two wins, with two against Bates and the other two against Endicott in a 3–1 win on Oct. 11.
Bowers made six saves in the shutout. On the other end of the pitch, McCarthy made seven saves and conceded three goals, while her replacement, first-year goalkeeper Katherine Nuckols, made five stops.
With the win against Bates, Tufts maintained its position as the second-best team in the NESCAC, trailing only the No. 3 Williams Ephs (12–0–1 overall, 7–0–1 in-conference). In a dramatic turn of events, the Jumbos’ next fixture will take them to Williamstown, Mass. for a highly anticipated clash of the NESCAC titans.
“We’re really excited,” Ranalli said. “Williams is a great opportunity to test ourselves against one of the best teams in the country. To get a win or tie against Williams would prove a point to the rest of the nation. We have nothing to lose.”
On Saturday, Tufts and Williams will kick off at Cole Field at 12:30 p.m.