The dumpsters are full of cardboard boxes, Dewick is open and class has started: The Jumbos are back.
With the fall semester underway, women’s soccer begins its 2019 campaign on Wednesday against Emerson College. Hot off their second-straight NCAA tournament berth last season, the Jumbos are ranked No. 22 in the nation and are looking to continue to build on their recent success with a challenging schedule ahead.
Last season, Tufts went 9–4–2 in the regular season, good for fourth place in the NESCAC. After losing to No. 1 NESCAC-seeded Williams in the NESCAC semifinals, the team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, beating Penn State Behrend in the first round, marking the first Tufts win in the NCAA tournament since 2007. The playoff run soon came to an end with a 1–0 double-overtime loss to William Smith, which hosted the tournament in Geneva, N.Y.
Junior forward Liz Reed, who, along with junior forward Sophie Lloyd, led the team in both goals and assists, spoke about the team’s performance last year and moving forward.
“Last season was incredible,” Reed said. “We’re still on that upward trajectory. Definitely a building season — every year we try to get better and I think last year we achieved a lot of our goals that we set out to achieve.”
The Jumbos did graduate some key seniors, including goalkeeper Emily Bowers (LA’19). Bowers started in goal for nearly every game of her four years and set a team record with 27 career shutouts.
Last year, Bowers received All-NESCAC honors, alongside Reed, senior midfielder and co-captain Jenna Troccoli, senior defender Sarah Maloney and Lloyd. Bowers, Reed, Maloney and Lloyd were also named to the United Soccer Coaches Div. III All-New England Region Team.
Reed explained that the team is in good shape personnel-wise, with so many returning players.
“We have a lot of returners back from last year who know what they’re doing,” Reed said. “And a lot of the first-years have stepped right in and melded with the team immediately. So, I mean, we’re already far ahead from where we were at this point last year, so there are a lot of good things to look forward to.”
With experience playing together, the team has focused its energy on fine-tuning small details in the preseason, according to Maloney.
“We’ve been working a lot on our transitions from out of the back and into the midfield, and we have some key players in that,” Maloney said. “Our [senior midfielder and co-captain] Izzy Moore has really stepped up into a position where she takes a lot of control, especially from the back transitioning into the midfield. Junior midfielder Hannah Isenhart has been making a lot of dangerous runs that we’ve been trying to build on to and looking more to see when we can find her. Mostly just things like that. Even things like looking into Liz Reed’s feet — she’s always dangerous on the ball.”
With a solid contingent of returning players and a productive preseason behind them, the Jumbos are prepared to take on a formidable NESCAC conference — Williams and Middlebury currently rank No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the United Soccer Coaches poll. Wednesday offers Tufts a tune-up match, where they take on non-conference opponent Emerson College — a team they tore through last year in an identical first-game-of-the-season matchup. Emerson was 10–6–1 in its regular season, though, and made it to the semifinals of the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference. Needless to say, the NESCAC is no joke.
Emerson posts a 2–0 record so far, with back-to-back 2–1 wins against Regis College on Aug. 30 and Plymouth State on Aug. 31.
Maloney spoke about the team’s upcoming game against Emerson.
“Even though it’s our first game of the season, it’s their third game of the season,” Maloney said. “We’re still super optimistic that we’ve been playing together enough this week that we’ll hit the ground running with a big first win hopefully.”
After the Emerson matchup on Wednesday, Tufts will travel to Williamstown, Mass., on Saturday for arguably the toughest matchup of the season against No. 1 nationally ranked Williams. Tufts has not defeated Williams since the fall of 2006.
“Getting to play [Williams] as our first conference game rather than closer to the end of our schedule like we typically do, we’re really excited to start off strong with them and kind of catch them on their back foot,” Maloney said. “It’s exciting to have such good competition early in the season to really see where we are and put up a good fight against them.”
Wednesday’s match is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m. at Tufts’ home Kraft Field in Somerville, Mass.