In a commanding performance, the Tufts women’s soccer team defeated the Bates Bobcats 4–1 on Saturday. The victory at Bates moved the No. 13 Jumbos to 6–1–1 on the season and 2–1 in the NESCAC, while the Bobcats fell to 1–5–1 overall and 0–3 in conference play.
Tufts applied offensive pressure early, with four shots in the opening eight minutes of the contest. In the 11th minute, sophomore midfielder Lily Sykes opened the scoring with a shot to the top right corner of the goal. Sykes’s first goal of the season was assisted by first-year midfielder Madeleine Pero.
Just over three minutes later, the Jumbos struck again with a goal from Pero assisted by junior midfielder Hannah Isenhart. The one-time strike was Pero’s fourth goal of the season. Bates held off the Tufts attack amid a number of substitutions on both sides until the 38th minute, when first-year midfielder Margaux Ameer connected on her second goal of the season. The goal came off an assist by sophomore forward Melina McDevitt.
Coming out of halftime with a 3–0 lead, the Jumbos kept the pressure on with four quick shots to open the first 12 minutes of the second half. However, Bates managed to hold off the attack, thanks to a number of saves by junior goalkeeper Katherine Nuckols. Building off the momentum of its defense and goalkeeper, Bates finally found its offensive touch with a goal in the 65th minute from first-year midfielder Elizabeth Patrick. Patrick’s first goal of the season was assisted by first-year midfielder/forward Sofia Fitzgerald.
Following the Bates goal, Tufts dominated the remainder of the match, finishing the scoring in the 80th minute with a goal from sophomore midfielder Stephanie DiLeo. DiLeo’s header goal was assisted on a free kick by senior defender Sarah Maloney.
The Jumbos controlled the game, outshooting the Bobcats by an outstanding 38–2. The 38 shots were a season-high for Tufts, which has been averaging 24.6 shots per game.
With two goals from first-years and two from sophomores, a large part of the Jumbos’ offensive success in this game can be attributed to contributions from their younger players. Junior forward and NESCAC goal and point leader Liz Reed spoke about the contributions from younger Tufts players this season.
“Our underclassmen are absolutely incredible and are making such an impact as shown by the statistics,” she said. “And although the statistics don’t mean everything, they just really show how such a deep and well-rounded team we are. It’s not just dominated by upperclassmen.”
Pero has been off to a particularly hot start. In the first eight games of the season, Pero has scored four goals and racked up 10 points. Pero is currently tied for eighth in the NESCAC for goals and is ninth in the rankings in the conference for points. Coach Martha Whiting praised Pero’s performance thus far in the season.
“Maddie is doing a great job,” she said. “We had an injury and she got her opportunity, and has really made the most of it and really run with it. The offensive output she has had in terms of goals has really been fantastic. It’s nice for our attacking midfielders to be able to score and take a little bit of pressure off the forwards. We are really excited with the direction Maddie is going in right now.”
Looking ahead, the Jumbos play the Trinity Bantams Saturday at home at 12 p.m. Despite the team’s 2–4–1 overall record, the Trinity has shown potential this season with a victory against the conference leaders Williams on Sept. 21. Williams is the only team to defeat Tufts so far this season. Whiting spoke about what she hopes to see from her team against Trinity this coming weekend.
“I think that we need to play consistently for 90 minutes,” Whiting said. “I think that’s something we haven’t necessarily done. To put a full 90 minutes in with fewer lapses will carry us through and get us more wins as we move along. Just a little bit more consistency offensively and defensively.”