The traveling Jumbos could not be tamed in their bus tour across the surprisingly temperate Northeast.
Tufts’ women’s soccer team came out victorious in back-to-back road contests against competitive NESCAC rivals, downing Hamilton 3–0 on Sunday after triumphing over Amherst 2–1 on Saturday.
The wins leave the Jumbos sitting at 10–1–1 with a 6–1 conference record, good for first place in the NESCAC standings with 18 points (two more than second-place undefeated Middlebury, who have a game in hand). The victories also give Tufts a five-game winning streak and extends its unbeaten run to 10 games, with its only loss coming in a 2–1 away defeat at Williams back in September.
An 11 a.m. Sunday morning affair against the Hamilton Continentals got off to a sweeping start for the Jumbos, as sophomore midfielder Lily Sykes lit up Love Field in the third minute with a strike just inside the 18-yard box to give Tufts the early advantage.
From there, the Jumbos were clean sailing and quickly capitalized on the momentum. In the 12th minute, junior forward Liz Reed sprayed a ball into the box to senior forward and co-captain Jenna Troccoli, who neatly corralled it and finished, putting the Jumbos up 2–0. Two minutes later, Reed sent another ball into the box. The Hamilton defense failed to clear, and junior Hannah Isenhart poked the ball in to put Tufts up 3–0.
“I think getting that first goal is huge,” Sykes told the Daily in an email. “We knew they were going to come out firing, and to get that first goal and then two more within those first fifteen minutes completely shifted the momentum in our favor and gave us confidence for the rest of the game. Once we got one, we knew there was room for more.”
The rest of the contest fell on the defense to resolutely protect momentum from falling back in favor of the Continentals. The Jumbos were more than up to the task, particularly the NESCAC player of the week, Tufts’ first-year goalie Hayley Bernstein. Making herself a “jumbo” presence in net, Bernstein saved all six shots on target (17 total) and marshalled a defense against five corners. This was only the second time Hamilton failed to score this year and marked the seventh clean sheet out of 12 games for Tufts.
Even more impressive was the fact that the traveling Jumbos were coming off an impressive victory: a gutsy, come-from-behind triumph away at Amherst the day before. In a noontime Saturday contest at Hitchcock Field, the Jumbos fell behind early after Amherst sophomore forward Alexa Juarez scored on a penalty kick in the fifth minute.
The breakthrough would come in the 67th minute when first-year midfielder Madeleine Pero passed the ball in the box to junior forward Sophie Lloyd. The Los Altos, Calif., native coolly finished to level the scoring.
Remarkably, the game stayed at this evened score for a mere 23 seconds. Reed chipped past the Amherst keeper on a ball from Lloyd to put the Jumbos up 2–1. Tufts was in control for much of the second half of the game, outshooting the Mammoths 14–7 in the second half and 23–12 on the day (11–4 in terms of attempts on target).
The No. 12 Jumbos look to continue their momentum next week against Conn. College as they embark on the final three games of their schedule, all home at Kraft Field. Victories in all three contests would ensure at minimum a second-place finish in the NESCAC standings, depending on results from the Middlebury Panthers in other games.
“Conn. College has always been a tough opponent for us, and they’ve been seeing some great results this far,” Sykes said. “I think that if we continue to play the way we have been playing we should be able to come out on top. That means playing fast, countering quick and playing with high intensity and high press all over the field.”
Tufts plays Conn. College on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m.