After winning five straight games, Tufts faced an out-of-conference opponent in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whom Tufts beat 22–3 in an all-around performance. With 14 different Tufts scorers, the Jumbos outclassed the Engineers who previously held a 4–3 record. First-year attacker Margie Carden and junior attacker and midfielder Caroline Walter led the Jumbos in scoring with each player netting a hat trick. Senior goalie Molly Laliberty commented on what went right for Tufts.
“We played a full game together. I think we had 14 different goal scorers, we had three defenders score,” Laliberty said. “I think everybody was just out there having fun playing our game.”
The Jumbos came out running in the first period by scoring seven unanswered goals. Sophomore midfielder Madeline Delaney struck first for the Brown and Blue and the floodgates immediately opened as graduate student attacker Claire Wright, Carden and junior midfielder Sami Rothstein all put the ball in the back of the net in the next six minutes. Carden got the scoring started in the second period to give herself two goals with a free position shot. After Tufts scored two more times to bring the score to 10–0, MIT finally got on the scoreboard. The Jumbos responded well by scoring four straight goals, one by senior midfielder Ananda Kao who has been playing defense this season. The Jumbos made a concerted effort to turn defense into offense during the MIT game. In the last 20 seconds of the second quarter, MIT scored again to bring the team’s goal total to two. The third and fourth periods were much less eventful with the Jumbos scoring eight more goals and the Engineers netting one goal. The game ended with a 22–3 victory for the Jumbos.
The Middlebury game went much differently as the Jumbos lost to the Panthers 14–7. The first period featured a fairly even game with both teams taking turns scoring. It ended 3–2 with Middlebury surging to a one goal lead in the last minute of the period. The Panthers started to increase the lead in the second period by netting four goals to the Jumbos’ two.
Laliberty believes the second-half breakdown lost the Jumbos their game.
“I think once they took a lead, I don’t think we ever even tied it back up, which was unfortunate and wasn’t the game plan going in,” Laliberty said.
The third and fourth period saw the Panthers gain control of the game and the Jumbos’ offense stumble a little as Tufts struggled to keep up with Middlebury’s attacking force. In terms of overall stats, the teams appeared to be on the same level. However, the Panthers took advantage of their scoring opportunities, something Laliberty says the team needs to work on in order to win competitive games.
“If I’m being a senior leader and talking about the things that we need to improve on, I want to hold myself accountable as well and say that if I get the chance to play Middlebury again, I know I’ll have more saves and I can definitely be better for my teammates,” Laliberty said.
Although the Jumbos lost, the most important and meaningful part of the day was the team’s tribute to their teammate Madie Nicpon, who passed away in October. Students and families came to show their support, with some players and coaches giving speeches commemorating Nicpon’s memory.
Laliberty discussed the importance of that moment for her and her teammates.
“It’s just really great to have an opportunity to celebrate everything that Madie brought to this program and continues to bring even to this day and to the future as well,” Laliberty said.