This past week, the Jumbos picked up a 0–0 draw away against Middlebury on Saturday and a 3–0 win at home against Salem State on Tuesday. With the draw and win, the Jumbos brought their record to 7–2–2, recovering from their slight dip in form over Homecoming weekend.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Jumbos faced off against the Salem State Vikings on Kraft Field and completely dominated the match. From the game’s onset, the Jumbos relentlessly pressured the Vikings, firing shot after shot onto the Viking goal. Within 20 minutes into the first half, Tufts managed a whopping 10 shots and barely let Salem State out of its own half. With so much attacking presence and so many goal-scoring chances, the Jumbos were bound to break through at some point.
They did just that in the 25th minute with their 11th shot of the game. Senior defender Jamie Corley picked up the loose ball just inside the Salem State half. Sophomore forward Liz Reed flicked the ball on to the flank to junior defender Tally Clark, who crossed the ball into the penalty box. The Salem State defense failed to clear the ball convincingly as the ball fell nicely to Reed, who laced the ball into the top of the net, making the score 1–0 to the Jumbos. The Vikings held out nine more shots from the hosts for the remainder of the half.
Tufts continued its offensive dominance in the second half, and quickly got a goal for their efforts within a minute of the game restarting. Sophomore defender/midfielder Hannah Isenhart slotted a pass through to an unmarked sophomore midfielder/forward Sophie Lloyd inside Salem State’s penalty area, who placed a composed finish into the back of the net to make it 2–0 to the Jumbos. Just five minutes later, Tufts made it 3–0. After a short corner routine between senior midfielder and co-captain Emma Ranalli and Isenhart, Ranalli found herself in acres of space. She crossed the ball in low for Reed who struck just inside the 18-yard box to make it 3–0 to Tufts, the final nail in the coffin for Salem State. The Jumbos finished the game with a massive 44 shots registered and 18 on goal. The team completely outclassed Salem State, who only managed four shots with just one on goal.
On Saturday, Tufts played NESCAC rival Middlebury (10–0–1). The game was a bitter stalemate which stretched into double overtime but ended scoreless. Middlebury entered the game fourth in the nation and at the top of the NESCAC, and it showed when Tufts played them. Unlike the Salem State game, Tufts remained on the defensive for most of the game. Tufts had a great chance inside eight minutes, but Clark ripped a shot just over the crossbar. Besides this chance, the first half was slow for the most part, as both teams played patient, defensive games. The hosts had two chances to take the lead on the half-hour mark, but junior forward Ellie Greenberg shot wide left thanks to pressure from senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers. Bowers then saved from junior midfielder Sabrina Glaser about a minute later to keep the scores knotted going into the break.
In the second half, the Jumbos struggled to create offensive opportunities once more, with their first and only shot on target coming in the 85th minute from junior midfielder Ashley Latona. However, the Jumbos defense remained strong throughout the remainder of the game and sealed out the Panthers to a 0–0, double overtime tie, despite the hosts doubling their attempts in the second period. In doing so Tufts limited Middlebury to its first draw of the season, and became the only team so far to not concede a goal against what is currently the best team in the conference.
Bowers was happy with the strong defensive performance from the Jumbos.
“I think the team’s defensive success stems largely from our constant communication throughout the game,” Bowers said. “Furthermore, Jamie, Sarah and Taylor are all incredible defenders with a lot of experience playing together, and they make my job easy by stopping most shots before they even happen. Each game we strive to improve and get a shutout, which incorporates the whole team. From the forwards to the defenders, the moment we lose the ball everyone is working hard defensively to regain possession.”
Despite the positive nature surrounding Tufts’ last two games, Rannali believes the team still has work to do.
“There are always things we need to work on both as an attacking and defensive unit,” Rannali said. “I thought our forwards did a great combining with the center midfielders and we had some nice combinations to goal. Of course we want to keep taking shots and continue to be dangerous and get numbers in to the attack. Middlebury is a very good team. Their record and national recognition show that. We were excited for the opportunity to compete against such a good team. We were happy with the way we played at moments — we kept our defensive shape and looked to keep the ball a lot, but of course we see room for improvement.”
For her impressive shot-stopping efforts against Middlebury, Bowers was named NESCAC Player of the Week. Bowers made a career-high 12 saves over the course of the match, keeping the Jumbos level against an offense that has otherwise been unstoppable this year.
“I feel honored being named NESCAC Player of the Week,” Bowers said. “It was great that we were able to shut out Middlebury offensively. But now I’m focusing on the next games this weekend against Connecticut College and Trinity.”
Tufts faces off against Conn. College on Oct. 13 at noon.