Coming off of a 1–0 loss against Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last week, the No. 5 Tufts field hockey team defeated the Colby Mules (4–1) Saturday at home on Ounjian Field, propelling the Jumbos to an overall record of 4–1. The Colby game marked the Tufts’ second conference game of the season. Colby, who was ranked No. 20 heading into a weekend with two conference games over two days, took on then-No. 3 Tufts in its third NESCAC game of the season.
Tufts came out determined in the first quarter, playing with noticeable vigor and grit. The Jumbos scored two early goals in the first quarter, both as a result of penalty corner plays. Senior midfielder Marguerite Salamone scored the first goal less than two minutes into the game, and senior forward and co-captain Rachel Hamilton netted the team’s second goal within the next five minutes of the game, giving Tufts a 2–0 advantage very early in the contest.
Additionally, the Jumbos put high offensive pressure in the first two quarters of the game, rarely allowing the Mules to get any shots on goal early in the game. Using long passes and communication, the Jumbos were able to work the ball up the field constantly throughout the game, and their quick tackles allowed them to repeatedly gain possession of the ball over the Mules.
However, leading into the third quarter, the Jumbos gave up a goal in the first minute of play. Despite the Jumbos’ high pressure during the first half of the game, the Mules broke through the defense, and soon set the tone for the remaining portion of the game.
The Mules put up their first point when Colby senior midfielder Eliza Mell netted an assist from first-year forward Kaitlyn Smith, setting the score to 2–1 in favor of the Jumbos. And in the 54th minute of the game, Colby’s second goal was scored off an assist from Smith by senior forward Georgia Cassidy. With the late goal, the Mules tied the game at two-all, raising the pressure at the end of the last quarter.
For over five excruciating minutes, the Jumbos bombarded the Mule defense, attempting a resounding four shots in the remainder of the game to try to avoid sending the game into overtime.
Incredibly, the Jumbos capitalized on a penalty corner obtained within the last minute of the game, when sophomore midfielder Claire Foley scored the game-winning shot with less than 20 seconds left in the game.
Foley, who is among three other teammates who lead the Jumbos with two goals on the season, detailed the precise set of conditions that allowed her to score the game-winner.
“My teammate [sophomore midfielder] Gillian Roeca tipped [the ball] in front of the cage, and that was kind of a game-changer for the play because she got the goalie off her initial line,” Foley said. “Once the goalie went down, it was easier to get it into the goal because she was on the ground and couldn’t stop it. So that initial tip off of the direct drop was really important for the play, and that’s kind of what we always try to do in corners.”
Overall, the Jumbos dominated the amount of corner plays received (23–5), and ultimately scored all of Tufts’ three goals on this type of play. The remaining 20 corner attempts were fruitless, as the ball fell short of the goal. Foley mentioned the missed corner attempts.
“We were kind of bound to score off of one of them,” Foley said. “Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if we hadn’t? We should have had more.”
Coach Tina Mattera supplemented Foley’s remarks, sharing what she believes made the game-winning play successful.
“I think we were able to scramble a little more in front of the cage, and I think we were able to get a few extra touches to put it in,” Mattera said. “I think [the play] got a little messier, and Colby wasn’t able to get it.”
Mattera also spoke about the successes her team achieved in the Colby game, making sure to applaud the performances of Foley and Roeca, two of her star midfielders.
“I think we needed to score early, and we did. So I was really happy with that. We had worked on corners a lot on the final days leading up to the game, and we were finally able to capitalize on a few of our chances,” Mattera said. “I think just from tenacity, [Foley] and [Roeca] had great games, and I think they were really putting pressure on Colby and were finally able to convert in the last minute of the game.”
Last Wednesday, the game against MIT proved to be tough for the Jumbos, as Tufts could not come back from a goal by MIT in the second quarter. Despite the high-pressure play they displayed in the second half of the game, the Jumbos were unable to convert a goal throughout the entirety of regulation, ultimately losing their first game of the season by a score of 1–0.
Foley addressed what she believed to be one of the reasons the Jumbos struggled in the MIT game, citing that a lack of focus in the early parts of the game may have contributed to the loss.
“Week games are always tougher for us because we have class, so you’re not just focused on the game. I think as far as gameplay, we didn’t come in ready to go,” Foley said. “Once we were down and we had to score with like eight minutes left in the game, it was like a whole different game. We played with so much more intensity, and had we played like that the entire game, we probably would have come out with the [win].”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, Mattera spoke about taking the season one game at a time.
“I really take it one game at a time,” Mattera said. “We have Babson [College] on Wednesday, so I’m watching film on them right now, trying to figure out what’s gonna work against them.”
The team plays Babson at home tonight at 5 p.m.