Homecoming weekend proved to be a tough one for the Tufts women’s soccer team, which suffered a loss and a tie, bringing its overall record to 6–2–1. The Jumbos faced off against two tough NESCAC opponents, losing to the Amherst Mammoths, 3–0, and drawing against the Hamilton Continentals, 1–1.
After a scorching hot 5–0 start to the season, the Jumbos have just one win in their last four outings. Though the competition has gotten much more difficult with two non-conference opponents, including No. 10 Brandeis, and two teams near the top of the NESCAC standings, the team knows that these were winnable games and that it had to beat these teams to achieve its highest goals this season. Nonetheless, with these results in the rearview mirror, the team is hungry to improve.
“I think our team can use these two games to motivate us for the rest of the season,” sophomore midfielder/forward Sophie Lloyd said. “They reinforce that every game we need to get better and learn from what went wrong. Otherwise, we become complacent and won’t be able to convert even games into wins.”
Senior defender Jamie Corley echoed similar sentiments.
“We definitely weren’t happy with the results this weekend, but this team stays together whether we win, lose or tie,” Corley said. “We [pick] each other up on the field and know how to push each other during practice and games to get better results. It’s a really special group — everyone is dialed in.”
Sunday’s game against the Hamilton Continentals (3–2–3) is one of those matches that the Jumbos will look back on thinking they could have grabbed a victory. Though the game was evenly matched throughout regulation and the two overtime periods, with both teams taking 18 shots, there were many opportunities when the Jumbos could have notched a game-winning goal.
Tufts got on the board early, scoring within the first minute on a cross from senior defender Taylor Koscho that found junior defender Tally Clark open. Clark, who has started every game this season, placed her header past Hamilton sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Pike for her first goal of the year and only the second in her career.
However, that proved to be Tufts’ only goal of the game as it struggled to put a second past Pike for the win. The hosts were soon pegged back by Hamilton junior midfielder Alex Fontana’s goal just past the half-hour mark. There was a feeling that the team could have done more.
“It is all about that extra inch to go from a tie to a win,” senior midfielder Sarah Grubman said. “Going forward, I think we are going to use this weekend as motivation to make that extra tackle or run to prevent any more ties or overtimes.”
Though Tufts knew it could have come out with a victory on Sunday, Hamilton was likely thinking the same thing, as the visitors peppered senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers with 16 shots in regulation. But Bowers, the reigning First Team All-NESCAC goalkeeper, did what she has done for over three seasons — standing tall in net and converting key saves — to keep the score tied.
Saturday’s 3–0 loss to Amherst (7–1–1) looked more lopsided on paper than it was on the field. The Jumbos had the distinct advantage in shots, pumping in 18 to the Mammoths’ 11, but it was the attitude of the Jumbos that the team believes lost them this game. The visitors opened the scoring in the 25th minute, with junior defender Sloan Askins getting her first goal of the season.
“Our biggest mistake in the Amherst game was our response to the first goal,” Lloyd, who had two shots in this game, said. “We lost the grittiness and willingness to pour every ounce of effort into each play after they scored.”
Grubman lamented the team’s energy in Saturday’s game.
“Each goal seemed to deflate us instead of lighting a fire to respond,” Grubman said. “They were winning the majority of 50/50 balls, which really changed the momentum of the game in their direction.”
The Mammoths’ second goal came just five minutes after the opener, as first-year midfielder/forward Ruby Hastie doubled their advantage which they carried into halftime. All year, the Jumbos have had the ability to produce offense in the second half, but despite their eight shots in the second half, they were unable to find the back of the net. Instead, Tufts conceded a third, this time through first-year forward Alexa Juarez. Defensively, the typically stingy back line had its worst statistical outing, giving up the most goals it has all season.
“[Amherst] stepped hard on our forwards, and their forwards were quick and capitalized on their shot opportunities,” Corley said. “But we know we can beat Amherst if we face them again. We just had some lapses in focus and lost some individual battles. We will come out stronger next time.”
The Jumbos’ schedule continues its tough stretch, as they travel to Middlebury, Vt. on Saturday to face the No. 4 Panthers (10–0). The Jumbos know they can still make a run for a NESCAC title, and Saturday’s game will be the first step back in the right direction.