No. 13 women’s soccer earns back-to-back NESCAC shutouts

Senior midfielder Tally Clark maneuvers around Bates' junior forward So Kim during a game on Sept. 15, 2018. Evan Slack / The Tufts Daily Archives

Sophomore midfielder Callie Scala tallied her first three career points off a goal and an assist in the No. 13 women’s soccer NESCAC doubleheader this past weekend. Scala scored on Sunday in a 2–0 win over Wesleyan by heading the ball into the net off a cross from first-year midfielder Margaux Ameer.

Against Wesleyan, Tufts came out with a slow start but eventually found its rhythm, scoring the first goal of the game in the 26th minute. Scala’s opening goal was the only one to find the back of the net in the first half, despite the Jumbos’ nine shots and the Cardinals’ 10.

Last year, a quad injury put Scala out for eight weeks of her first-year career and as a result, she only played in the first four games.

“That was really tough as a [first-year] because you come in, you’re super excited to play and you want to make an impact,” Scala said. “But the team was so supportive, and I don’t think I would have had that same experience if I went somewhere else.”

She credits her ability to make such an impact this season on being able to watch the team play and learning from the players on the field last year.

“I was able to observe a lot, which is a valuable thing because I was able to see what people were doing right and wrong, how I could help the team with points and how they can improve,” Scala said. “Then over the summertime, and throughout winter and spring, I worked my butt off to get stronger and make sure that injury did not happen again. I think finally, this past weekend I felt like I was getting back into my stride.”

In the second half, the Jumbos outshot the Cardinals 10–6, with first-year midfielder Madeleine Pero finishing on a shot at the 77:10 mark, extending the Jumbos’ lead to 2–0. Pero currently is ranked second in goals for the Jumbos with five in the first 10 games of her rookie career.  

On Saturday, senior midfielder and co-captain Jenna Troccoli scored her first two goals of the season in a 3–0 win over Trinity

Leading up to the weekend, Tufts worked on utilizing their backfield as well as connecting on passes throughout the field. The team also practiced a combination of big and small passes to switch the field quickly. The Jumbos were able to find the back of the net five separate times this weekend due to being patient and making smart plays.

Coach Martha Whiting spoke about the intelligent and calculated attacks the Jumbo front executed on the weekend.

“We played the smart ball, we weren’t trying to force a pass that wasn’t there,” Whiting said. “We were patient; sometimes in our game, you can’t always go forward, and we recognized well when we could go forward and when we needed to pull the ball back and reset.”

Tufts dominated both offensively and defensively against Trinity, holding the Bantams to just three shots all game while the Jumbos fired off 26 in total. Additionally, Tufts earned three corner kicks, and Trinity had none.

The first goal came from Troccoli, who received a pass from junior midfielder Hannah Isenhart and buried it with her left foot. This was Troccoli’s first goal of the season after a shoulder injury against Williams put her out for three weeks.

“I have been working hard to get back, so it feels really great to be back with the team,” Trocolli said. “In the meantime, we’ve had a lot of great people step up, our [first-year] class is doing so well and we’re looking to make a deep run this year.”

In the 21st minute, the Jumbos extended their lead to two goals when junior forward Liz Reed scored off a pass from Scala. Reed currently leads both the Jumbos and the NESCAC in points with 18.

In the second half, Troccoli added the last goal of the game, finishing in the middle of the box off a cross from senior midfielder Tally Clark.

After adding the two wins, the No. 13 Jumbos improved to 81–1 on the season and 4–1 in the NESCAC. After facing the Jumbos, the Bantams fell to 2–5–1 on the season and 1–3 in conference play. The Cardinals fell to 6–2–2 on the season and 2–2–2 in the NESCAC. The Jumbos are currently ranked third in the NESCAC.

Coming out of the weekend, the Jumbos are proud of their results, and are looking forward to the rest of the season. Moving forward, Tufts is looking to improve on staying composed and consistent throughout the game. 

“I felt like we actually played the soccer that we know how to play. We possessed the ball, we were super aggressive and strong in tackles and we finished,” Scala said. “Something we can improve on is composure on the ball. I think settling the ball, playing to feet, making the right decision on the ball and playing quickly will help us improve during the season. We’ve been doing a great job on team defense but I think if we communicate more and keep that up, we’re going to be unstoppable.”

The Jumbos will travel to Amherst on Saturday and to Hamilton on Sunday for their next NESCAC doubleheader weekend. Whiting spoke about the team’s goals moving into its challenging NESCAC matchups.

“Moving on to Amherst and Hamilton, it’s going to be important to start out at a high level and really dictate the pace of play from the beginning,” Whiting said. “If we commit to coming out hard, pressuring hard and winning 50/50 balls right from the start, then we’re going to hopefully have some good results this weekend.”