Field hockey continues perfect streak against MIT, Kean

Senior midfielder and co-captain Fallon Shaughnessy battles two defenders in Tufts' 4–2 win over Bates at Ounjian Field on Sept. 15. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily
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No. 3 Tufts picked up right where it left off last week to continue a promising 2018 campaign with a pair of 1–0 wins against MIT (6–3) and Kean University (4–6). While the box scores reveal tight games for the Jumbos, a stout defensive effort prevented either of their opponents from issuing much of a threat in the attacking third of the field. The wins keep Tufts’ undefeated season alive — a marked improvement over the team’s 3–2 start last year.

The Jumbos traveled to Union, N.J., where they met the Kean Cougars for their third road match of the young season on Saturday. Kean was a new addition to Tufts’ schedule this year, so the teams were forced to adjust to an unfamiliar foe in the afternoon bout.

Nonetheless, the Jumbos were back to their usual tricks, attacking fast and often. It paid off early in the match when senior forward Hanaa Malik fired a shot past the Cougars’ defense and into the back of the net inside seven minutes. The goal, Malik’s second of the season, was assisted by first-year defender/midfielder Sophie Schoeni. Schoeni’s assist was her fourth point in the first five games of her collegiate career.

Tufts locked down Kean on the defensive end, with the hosts unable to get off a single shot. However, the Jumbos struggled to create offensive chances. They got off four more shots in the first half, all of which were saved by the Cougars’ sophomore goalkeeper Megan Houser.

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While the Jumbos put eight shots on frame in the second half, they again came up empty. Malik’s early goal proved to be enough, though, as Tufts’ defense stayed strong. Kean generated two solid chances late with their only shots of the contest, but senior goalkeeper Emily Polinski turned both of them away to secure the shutout victory in the Garden State.

“Our defense has been improving a lot [and] working together really well,” Polinski said. “I don’t have to face many shots, and when I do, our defense makes [them] shots I can handle very easily. Our communication as a unit has definitely improved throughout the last few games.”

Earlier in the week, Tufts hosted MIT for a rematch of the latter’s 1–0 home win last season. The Jumbos flipped the script on Tuesday, securing a victory by the same scoreline at Ounjian Field in Medford.

Tufts once again put on a defensive clinic, allowing only two MIT shots in the entire contest. Polinski rejected the only shot on target at the 44:22 mark. The Jumbos’ offense cooked up a high-volume attack, peppering the Engineers’ sophomore goalkeeper Grace Moore with 48 total shots — 22 of which were on target. Moore fared very well, saving an eye-popping 21 shots.

Early in the second half, however, one slipped by the Boston native to give Tufts just enough for a victory. In the 48th minute, a penalty corner found its way to Schoeni, who connected with sophomore midfielder Beth Krikorian for the game-winning goal. It was Krikorian’s second strike of the year.

“We focused on putting as much pressure [on MIT] as we could and finding ways to pop off our defenders to receive the ball and take quick shots,” Malik said. “All of our players were working effectively and we were able to capitalize on one of those shots.”

While the Jumbos remained on the front foot throughout the remaining 20 minutes, none of their chances found the net. Tufts held onto its 1–0 lead until the final whistle to secure a satisfying victory.

“It was a big game on our revenge tour,” Malik said.

With the win, Tufts has now already beaten three opponents that it lost to last season in Babson, Bates and MIT. The team’s undefeated record will be tested during a three-game homestand this week against NESCAC rivals Wesleyan, Amherst and Hamilton. The Jumbos swept the exact same stretch of opponents on the road last season, eking out a 2–1 victory over Hamilton on Oct. 1, 2017.

“Every NESCAC game is really important in terms of what happens in the postseason,” Polinski said. “We’re preparing for each one individually — one game at a time — and we’re hoping to make a statement.”

The games against Amherst and Hamilton will take place during Tufts’ Homecoming weekend, which is sure to add an extra of energy to the matchups.

“Getting a good fan turnout will be great,” Malik said. “Everyone’s going to be really excited, and it’s just going to motivate us more to win since it’s such an important day to Tufts.”

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