The No. 10 Tufts Jumbos trounced the MIT Engineers and the Wellesley Blue in two dominant games that boasted an overall record of 38 goals scored and only four conceded. Though both victories were against non-conference opponents, the matches showcased the depth of the Jumbos’ bench: there were 15 different goal scorers over the two games.
“I knew going into the season that our team had great depth, and I think the first three games have showed that,” coach Courtney Shute said. “It’s given everyone a great chance to get minutes on the field and show individually what everyone’s capable of, and it translated into some really great team moments.”
On Monday night, Tufts (3–0) traveled to nearby MIT (1–2), a team Tufts had beaten in their past three matchups. In the first half of the game, the Jumbos scored a whopping 14 goals and only conceded one because they went 14-for-19 on shots, including 4-for-4 on free positions. Part of what allowed the team to do this was its domination of the draw in the first half — it claimed 12 compared to MIT’s five. The possession allowed the Jumbos to push the ball down the field at a high pace, which culminated, at one point, in scoring three goals in 39 seconds.
First-year attacker Colette Smith could not be contained by the Engineers’ defense. Her trademark left crease take resulted in three unassisted goals in the first half, and a fourth goal came from a quick feed by junior attacker Emily Games following a switch behind goal. Only three Tufts goals in the entire game were assisted, compared to an average of nine assists over the first two games.
“I think that the [offense] didn’t have enough time to settle into the attack and work together to set up plays which tend to target more assisted looks,” sophomore attacker Claire Wright said. “We never got the chance to start working plays for the MIT game, whereas for Wellesley we had more of a settled attack which allowed us to work on running plays.”
MIT sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Adams allowed 10 goals within the first 15 minutes of the game. The Engineers substituted Adams for first-year goalkeeper Kiely Smiga-McManus, who fared better as she saved seven out of 14 shots in the remaining 45 minutes of the game.
“At the start of the game we came out really hard, which enabled us to get a running clock quickly and give many people playing time,” Wright said.
The second half was a different story, with a telling scoreline of 3–3. The most significant difference was the Jumbos only managing three goals on 12 shots, including finishing only one of their six free position opportunities. Tufts initially extended its lead to 17–1, but MIT came back with three goals in a row to close out the game.
“I think our intensity went down [in the second half], and we were never able to get organized in the defense or attack because there was so much transition,” Wright said. “We definitely could have improved our shot selection, which was a lot better in the first half.”
The game ended with a resounding 17–4 win. All 29 players on the roster saw time on the field.
On Saturday, the Jumbos held the Wellesley Blue to a 21–0 shutout that saw 14 different Jumbos get on the scorecard. The top scorer of the day was Wright, who netted three goals on nine shots. Wright was tied with Smith, who also scored three goals and provided two assists.
Like in the MIT game, Tufts dominated possession off the draw, winning 14 overall compared to Wellesley’s nine. But what really gave them an edge was the strength of their ride, or in other words, re-defending the ball on the opponent’s clear to regain possession in their own attacking end. The Jumbos capitalized on these second-chance opportunities to push their goal count higher and higher.
“We had a great ride and we regained possession most of the time on clears against us,” Shute said. “That was key in keeping possession and limiting Wellesley’s possession against our defense. We won a lot of draws and we capitalized on the opportunities that we had. I thought that was a great team win on Saturday.”
On the defensive end, senior goalkeeper Audrey Evers and first-year goalkeeper Molly Laliberty shared time in the cage, with Laliberty mustering seven saves over the two games, and Evers tallying two.
Laliberty and Smith are just two members of a strong first-year class which got a chance to find its collegiate legs this weekend. Thirteen of the team’s 38 goals over the last week were scored by first-years, with every single player making an impact on the field.
The Jumbos look ahead to their first home match and second conference opponent of the season in the Colby Mules (3–0). The Mules currently top the NESCAC, starting the season with a 2–0 conference record. Though Tufts overcame Colby last season 11–9, Colby historically holds a strong record against Tufts, boasting seven wins out of the last 10 meetings between the two sides.
“Colby will be a great team, they always are,” Shute said. “They’re well coached and always play hard. I think the staff and team are looking forward to a competitive game on Saturday, and looking forward to being on Bello for the first time too.”
The Jumbos will take the draw against the Mules on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Bello Field.