Women’s soccer rolls past NEC and Colby, falls to MIT

Tufts defenders preparing to get possession of the ball from a throw-in. Stephany Sestini / The Tufts Daily

After a breakout 2019 season, where Tufts University women’s Soccer danced to the NCAA tournament’s Sweet Sixteen, the Jumbos began their 2021 season with NESCAC title hopes, and their performances so far have rarely disappointed. 

Most recently, Tufts squared off against Colby on Saturday, ultimately defeating the Mules 6–0. The Jumbos’ three captains combined for all three goals of the first half. The first goal of the match came when senior midfielder and co-captain Lily Sykes sent a free kick from half field into the box that found the head of fellow senior midfielder and co-captain Stephanie DiLeo. Graduate student forward and co-captain Liz Reed found her first goal off a self-made play, where she received the ball on the top right edge of the box, made a sharp turn to her left, and sent a high arching shot that found the left corner of the goal. The entire sequence looked like a scene from “Bend it Like Beckham” (2002) and Reed would only continue to capitalize on opportunities for the rest of the match. The last goal of the half came from DiLeo again as the Jumbos entered half time up 3–0.

Instead of playing it safe, the Jumbos increased their intensity in the second half as Reed scored again in the 51st minute and went on to continue to be involved with each goal scoring opportunity this half. She picked out junior forward Claire Wilkinson inside the box for an easy tap in, putting Tufts up 5–0. The final goal of the match for Tufts came from a cross directed into the box by junior midfielder Margaux Ameer, with Reed timing it beautifully to complete her hat trick.

“It’s not all about scoring because, even though I had a hat trick, I’m always thinking about the things that I can do better,” Reed said.

The Colby game was the Jumbos bouncing back and taking care of business in the NESCAC after losing to MIT in an uncharacteristic performance.

“We just played MIT and we lost 3–0, which really lit a fire under us to beat Colby 6–0, but sometimes you need those games of loss to really motivate you for the rest of the season,” Reed said.

The MIT match was the toughest of the season so far for Tufts. Coming into the bout undefeated and off a ridiculous 11–0 victory over New England College, Tufts was caught off guard by the Engineers. The Jumbos’ effort to score fell short although they had 17 shots to the Engineers’ 12.

“The biggest takeaway is that we have to be on point, focused, everything squared away in 90 minutes of the game,” senior forward Melina McDevitt said. “Because good teams will exploit you if you take a play off and that’s exactly what they did.”

On Saturday, Sept. 18, prior to the MIT and Colby matches, Tufts faced New England College, who were clearly overmatched as the Jumbos blanked the Pilgrims 11–0. It’s unclear what the Pilgrims did with all that time on the Mayflower, but clearly it wasn’t spent practicing soccer.  Reed started off the frenzy by scoring in the second minute of the game. McDevitt followed shortly thereafter, putting away her first of two goals for the day in the 16th minute. The interval between the 20th and 30th minute was also tough for the Pilgrims as Sykes, junior midfielder Maddie Pero and sophomore midfielder Thalia Greenberg all found the back of the net. The Jumbos showed no signs of slowing down as first-year defender Jordan Cushner struck the ball into the top left corner in the 39th minute.

The Jumbos got back to work in the second half, as senior defender Kylie Metcalf scored off an Ameer assist. In the next five minutes, the Jumbos tallied their goals up to nine with help from McDevitt and senior midfielder Lily Keiderling. Unlike softball, where a team that is losing by 10 runs after five innings is subject to the mercy rule, soccer just keeps going, so New England College had to persevere as sophomore midfielder Erin Duncan and Reed both scored to make the final score 11–0

The NESCAC is no joke — at least when it comes to Div. III schools close to the Northeast megalopolis. The Jumbos now hold a 4–1 record and have some tough NESCAC play ahead of them with Wesleyan on Tuesday and Bates and Hamilton this weekend.