Through one week of the 2018 season, Tufts is off to as good a start as it could have imagined. In the span of five days, the Jumbos racked up three wins and an 11–0 total scoring margin. With convincing wins over all three of its opponents — away at Emerson and Colby, and at home against Keene State — the team proved its ability to win on the road and comfortably handle non-conference and NESCAC opponents alike.
The team returned a core group of players from its 2017 campaign despite graduating five seniors, making the hot start unsurprising.
“We were all very confident coming into the year, given how many contributors we had coming back, but we know that we can still get even better,” senior defender Jamie Corley said.
Senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers agreed, adding that this year’s fast start came off the back of the hard work done last year. Bowers, a four-year starter and third-team All-American selection last year, has already recorded three clean sheets. She attributes the success to her defensive teammates in front of her, namely Corley, junior Sarah Maloney and senior Taylor Koscho.
“We created a really strong foundation to build off of in 2017, so we set our goals for this year higher than they’ve been in the past,” Bowers said. “We have 11 goals and three shutouts so the results speak for themselves. It just shows that we are continuing to get better as a team and are finding ways to improve.”
The most emphatic victory of the three games came on Sunday afternoon, with Tufts winning in a dominant, 5–0 performance in its home opener against Keene State (1–2). Bowers earned her easiest shutout of the season as she faced no shots on goal, while sophomore Sophie Lloyd produced her third straight multi-goal game as she put Tufts ahead on 16:30. Junior midfielder Izzy Moore then doubled Tufts’ lead with her first career goal, a beautiful shot struck from nearly 30 yards out. Sophomore defender/midfielder Hannah Isenhart accomplished the same feat with the final goal of the game in the 84th minute. Sandwiched between these goals was Lloyd’s second of the match, as well as sophomore Liz Reed’s first of the season.
The day before, Tufts claimed victory in its first conference game of the season, winning 2–0 at Colby (1–1). Lloyd was equally impressive, as she converted both Tufts goals, one in each half, while Bowers easily thwarted all three shots on goal that Colby mustered. Most of the game was dictated by the Tufts offense, which racked up 16 shots on goal.
Lloyd, who came into the year with high expectations of her own after being named NESCAC Rookie of the Year last season, has scored six goals in three games to lead the conference. However, Lloyd was quick to attribute the team’s success to a collective effort.
“We have an immense amount of depth on our team, and we were able to learn to play with each other so quickly,” Lloyd said. “Every player has been contributing a lot at both the practices and the games. We go into every game with the goal of being better than the last time we played. It will be difficult to keep up these kinds of wins but we look forward to taking each game as it comes.”
Tufts’ season got off to the fastest start possible at Emerson (3–1) on Wednesday, as it took all of one minute and eight seconds for Lloyd to the find the back of the net off of Reed’s assist, the first of four Reed chalked up to start the season. Tufts never relinquished its lead or its stranglehold on the momentum of the game, outshooting Emerson 11–3 in the first half. However, Tufts went into halftime up only 1–0. The floodgates opened quickly for the Jumbos in the second half, as junior midfielder Jenna Troccoli and Lloyd added to the scoring tally within the first 12 minutes. Junior Ashley Latona brought the score to 4–0 a little more than 10 minutes later to complete the scoring.
Based on its opening games, it seems clear that the team is poised to make a run at the NESCAC title and hopefully a deep postseason push. The depth of the lineup has been particularly impressive, with the sophomores and first-years providing a huge spark, but much credit must be given to the senior leadership.
“The seniors this year have seamlessly integrated all of the classes into the team while maintaining a very high work ethic,” Lloyd said. “The captains have been tremendously well organized, they have definitely had a huge roll in our early success.”
Corley, a member of that all-important senior class, spoke to the importance of team chemistry both on and off the field for Tufts’ early success.
“I think the younger players notice how close the seniors are off the field and are seeing how the friendships are making us better on the field,” said Corley. “All of the classes below us have been putting in a lot of effort into making the team a cohesive unit and its been working extremely well so far.”
Tufts play host in all its fixtures for the rest of this month, starting with Wesleyan tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Bello Field. The Jumbos then host the Bates Bobcats on Saturday.