Tufts travelled to Connecticut this weekend and emerged with two crucial late-season NESCAC wins. The two wins, 2–0 over Trinity and 2–1 against Conn. College, bring Tufts to an overall record of 9–2–2 and a conference record of 5–1–2, good enough for fourth in the NESCAC.
This week also featured individual recognition for the Jumbos as sophomore forward Liz Reed was given NESCAC Women’s Soccer Player of the Week honors. Reed finished the week with eight points, including a game-winning goal in overtime against Conn. College and an assist against Trinity, which brings her NESCAC-leading assist tally to seven.
Reed and fellow sophomore midfielder/forward Sophie Lloyd have demonstrated indelible chemistry on the field as they lead the team in points this year. Reed often provides Lloyd with chances that the goal-scoring phenom puts away with ease.
“Sophie and I are able to work well together because we are somewhat opposite in our styles of play,” Reed said. “Our knowledge and understanding of each other of what we want from a pass or a specific run also affects the success of our play. We also do get the points and statistics, but we could not be successful without our other teammates who win those other battles on the field that do not get as much recognition.”
This weekend marked the last of three double-header weekends for the Jumbos, this time on the road. The overnight travel and back-to-back road wins made this weekend arguably the most impressive for the Jumbos this season. But being away from home for the weekend is not a hurdle for the team. In fact, they enjoy it.
“We love overnight weekends,” senior forward and co-captain Alex Aronson said. “It is nice when it is just all about soccer and all about the team. Obviously, there are less distractions than there are when we are staying at home, and it is a great thing for the chemistry and cohesiveness of the team.”
Sunday afternoon’s game against Trinity (4–6–2 overall) was a 90-minute display of dominance by the Jumbos. In a game where fatigue can rear its ugly head, the Jumbos instead outshot the Bantams 24 to six and dominated with both their first unit and their substitutes. The first goal came after coach Martha Whiting made her trademark multiple substitutions, bringing on first-year midfielder Stephanie DiLeo amongst others. DiLeo rewarded Whiting’s confidence in her as she scored her first collegiate goal in the 42nd minute as the opposition tired. The dominance continued into the second half, as the Jumbos kept the pressure on the Bantams’ back line, converting their insurance goal in the 62nd minute in the best way they know how — a link-up play from Reed to Lloyd — with assistance from first-year midfielder Lily Sykes. Lloyd netted her ninth goal of the campaign, good for second in the NESCAC.
“The Trinity game was a great team win,” senior defender Taylor Koscho said. “We were able to carry our momentum from Saturday’s game and just take care of business.”
Meanwhile, Saturday’s win against Conn. College (7–5 overall) was a tightly fought contest. With the score locked at one after 90 minutes, the Jumbos headed to their third straight overtime battle against a NESCAC opponent; both previous games resulted in a tie. Against Conn. College, Reed secured the much-needed breakthrough in the 98th minute to clinch the victory.
However, just as crucial as Reed’s offensive breakthrough to win the game was the stalwart defense, who kept Conn. College off the board for the last 50 minutes of the game. Earlier in the game, the Camels’ sophomore forward/midfielder Kat Norton notched what was her conference-leading 10th goal of the season to give the home fans something to cheer for on the 50th minute. However, led by Jumbo junior midfielder Sarah Maloney, who also scored the equalizing goal in regulation, the defense was able to stymie the Camels and hold them off just enough to get the win.
“We have had other games where we have been able to come back from being a goal down,” Reed said. “Winning close games in a consistent style is very important for our team. It gives us confidence in each other that, in deciding opportunities, we can dominate.”
Koscho spoke to the team’s ability to compete through adversity in a composed manner.
“I think the biggest thing was that we were being aggressive and staying proactive rather than being the team that was reacting to the opponent,” Koscho said. “We just kept our composure and were able to pull it out.”
According to Aronson, the Jumbos have little time to celebrate, because Tufts faces what is arguably its biggest opponent of the season yet. Tufts welcomes the defending national champions and current NESCAC leaders Williams to Kraft Field on Saturday with the hopes that they can add a signature win heading into the postseason.
“It’s at home, it’s parents weekend … we have had this game marked for a while,” Aronson said. “We know we can play with this team, and I think for the first time in my years here, everyone on this team genuinely knows that we can win this game.”
The Jumbos’ final home game of the season kicks off at 12:30 p.m.