Women’s soccer loses NESCAC quarterfinal 1–0

The Tufts women's soccer team is pictured playing Hamilton on Oct. 3. Michelle Li / The Tufts Daily

Tufts women’s soccer was narrowly defeated by Hamilton 1–0 on Saturday in the NESCAC conference quarterfinal game. In a tough, evenly matched contest, the Jumbos were unable to get on the scoresheet. Tufts will end its season 8–7 overall, and 5–6 in conference play. 

Entering the game, the Hamilton Continentals and the Tufts Jumbos had already faced each other once before on Oct. 3. The result of that matchup was a 1–0 win for the Continentals. Hamilton was ranked No. 3 in the NESCAC conference standings and No. 19 in the national rankings coming into Saturday’s game. Tufts was ranked No. 6 in the NESCAC and had won its last three before this game. 

The Jumbos came out on fire in the first half, dominating possession of the ball and pinning the Continentals in their own half for the majority of the first 10 minutes. 

“We connected all of our passes well, and were moving off the ball from each other,” first-year midfielder Lily Bienstock said. 

The Jumbos were able to send in multiple crosses into the penalty box but had them intercepted before the team’s forwards could get to them. Despite these efforts, the Continentals held strong against the relentless Jumbos attack for the first half-hour of the game. 

On the opposite side of the ball, junior goalkeeper Kaelin Logue made a key stop in the 18th minute to keep the game 0–0. As a cross from the left side of the penalty box came in, Logue cut in front of a Hamilton forward to prevent a point-blank shot on goal. 

Other than a few forays into the Jumbos’ penalty area for the Continentals, the Tufts defense held strong throughout the first half, allowing only four shots on goal. The Jumbos’ back line of senior defenders Callie Scala, Kylie Metcalf, Tookie Wilson and first-year Jordan Cushner was able to thwart most of the Hamilton attacks. 

In the 33rd minute, graduate forward and co-captain Liz Reed had an opportunity to score on a ball that was deflected into the air. Reed got her right foot on the ball and volleyed it toward the net, but the attempt was saved by the Hamilton goalkeeper.

The best chance for the Jumbos came right at the end of the half. After a Continental free kick, goalie Kaelin Logue quickly threw the ball out to the wing for junior forward Claire Wilkinson, who sent a great through ball across the field to sophomore midfielder Casey Lam. Lam dribbled into the box, evading the Hamilton back line, and sent in a cross which was cut out just before it could reach senior forward Melina McDevitt. 

In the second half, Hamilton began to gain momentum. In the 47th minute, a cross from the right side of the 18-yard box was deflected into the net by Hamilton forward Olivia Zubarik to put the Continentals up 1–0. 

The goal changed the tone of the second half, as the Jumbos had to play from behind. Hamilton began to have more possession of the ball and started to test Logue more, managing to post 10 shots. 

“I think [in the] second half we were playing well, we just couldn’t get a goal. I do think second-half Hamilton was a lot more aggressive than the first,” junior forward Margaux Ameer said. 

Halfway through the second half rain began to fall, and due to the grass field, conditions became more challenging for both teams. The Jumbo backline continued to hold strong after conceding the goal and limited the shots on goal for Hamilton throughout the rest of the second half. 

Tufts had a few chances in the second half that were fractionally off target. Reed took a shot from the top of the box that went inches wide of the far post. Less than a minute later, she had another shot deflected just over the crossbar for a corner kick. 

As time wound down, the Continentals shifted into more of a defensive formation by dropping their forwards back. Conversely, the Jumbos changed their formation as well.

“We switched from a four-back to a three-back, just to get as many attacking players forward as we could in hopes to score,” Ameer said. 

This allowed Tufts to possess the ball more in the last 10 minutes, and the team was able to keep the pressure on the Hamilton defense. Many of the Jumbos’ crosses were cleared by the Hamilton defenders before forwards could fire them into the back of the net. 

In the final 15 seconds of the game, Margaux Ameer took a shot from outside the penalty box that was saved by a diving stop from the Hamilton goalie. Unfortunately, that was the last kick of the game and time ran out on the Jumbos. 

Overall, it was a very competitive game which emulated many of the games that the Jumbos have played this year.

“[We are looking forward to] new blood and a fresh start, because this season didn’t go as we’d planned,” Bienstock said. 

This loss ends the season for the Jumbos, who hope to take away the positives and translate them into a successful season next year.