Field hockey falls short to Johns Hopkins in overtime in NCAA quarterfinals

After falling to Middlebury in the NESCAC Championship game earlier this month, the field hockey team began to prepare for its run in the NCAA Div. III championship bracket. Last year, the Jumbos reached the championship game, but fell short to Middlebury 2–0.

On Sunday, the Jumbos entered the quarterfinal game against Johns Hopkins on the Blue Jays’ home turf. Johns Hopkins had just come off a win against Messiah, and were looking to defeat Tufts in order to secure their spot in the final four. The last time that Johns Hopkins and Tufts met was during the NCAA Final Four game last season where the Jumbos won 3–1. The Jumbos and the Blue Jays played to a 1–1 draw after regulation, but a goal by Johns Hopkins in overtime marked the end of Tufts’ NCAA run.

During the first half of the game, both teams combined had only attempted six shots. Neither side dominated the first half, and the score reflected this. The Blue Jays did have four attempted penalty corners, but were ultimately unsuccessful in scoring a goal on any of them.

Heading into the third quarter, the score was tied 0–0. The Blue Jays broke the stalemate early in the third quarter during a corner play, marking Johns Hopkins’ only goal during regulation. The goal was scored by midfielder Katie McErlean near the stroke mark, where she waited for a teammate to send her the ball from the top of the circle.

Eager to tie the score, the Jumbos put on high offensive pressure, and in doing so gained a corner eight minutes into the fourth quarter. On this play, senior midfielder Marguerite Salamone inserted the ball to the top of the circle and sophomore midfielder/defender Sophie Schoeni slipped the ball to junior midfielder Beth Krikorian. Krikorian fired a shot from the top of the circle, passing several of the Blue Jay defenders before finding its way inside the cage. This equalizer sent the two teams into overtime. 

Forty-nine seconds into the overtime period, the Blue Jays received a corner. Midfielder Abby Birk inserted the ball to forward Maddie Brown-Scherer who took a shot on goal. The ball slipped past the Jumbos defense and forward Izzy Thompson tipped the ball into the goal. The overtime goal gave Johns Hopkins its ticket to the Final Four and ended the Jumbos’ 2019 season. 

The team’s leading goal scorer this season, sophomore forward Gillian Roeca, reflected on the game this weekend against Johns Hopkins.

“I think that due to the conditions of having to play on field turf and also have a really rough time with the refs not really calling anything in our favor that we did all we could,” Roeca said. “It was not the result that we wanted. I think we deserved to win and could have gotten it.”

The day before, on Saturday, Tufts defeated Denison with a resounding 3–0 win in the first round of the tournament, hosted by Johns Hopkins. Denison was coming off a win against Rochester earlier in the week, securing its spot in the second round. 

The Jumbos had a slow start, as there was a considerable amount of back-and-forth with the ball between the two teams. However, a late corner called for the Jumbos gave them a potential scoring opportunity with under a minute left in the first quarter. The shot was set up when Krikorian took a shot from the top of the circle and the ball faced traffic in the circle, but ultimately found Salamone who redirected the ball into the bottom left corner of the cage

Heading into the second quarter, there was not much offensive action from either team early on, but began to reveal the intensity of the game due to the green and yellow cards received by both teams during the game. Just under two minutes into the third quarter, first-year midfielder Reegan McCluskey attempted a shot on goal but was blocked. However, Krikorian gained possession of the loose ball and netted the ball into the cage, propelling the Jumbos to a 2–0 advantage over the Denison Big Red.

Heading into the fourth quarter, Denison looked to tie up the score and began the quarter with noticeable intensity. The Big Red gained two corners within seconds of each other early in the last quarter, but were unable to capitalize on these scoring opportunities. The Jumbos ended the quarter with a final goal scored by Salamone during a corner play on a rebound shot. 

With an impressive shut-out win, coach Tina Mattera reflected on the game.

“I think we played really well together as a team [against Denison] and we executed our plan,” Mattera said. “I think that the girls worked really hard and were fired up for the game.”

The Jumbos’ win against the Big Red left Denison with an overall 17–4 record for the season. 

Despite the loss in the NCAA quarterfinals game ending the Jumbos’ season, Mattera commended the team on a great season. 

“I was really pleased, we lost a lot of players going into this year and we had some big holes to fill,” Mattera said. “I think the girls stepped up really nicely and filled in those holes. We had some great leadership and a lot of returning starters which helped us as well. Honestly, I was really happy overall with how we battled this year.” 

Looking forward to next season, Mattera shared what she wants the team to work on. 

“We definitely need to work on goal scoring and limiting the goals scored on us,” Mattera said. “I would love to get our scoring average up and focus on finishing games.”

The field hockey team ends its season with an overall record of 15–5.