Field Hockey | Jumbos edge Cardinals 1-0
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 11:09
The No. 16 field hockey team settled the score on Saturday afternoon, notching its first NESCAC victory of the season and improving to 2-1 overall on the back of senior forward Missy Karp, the lone goal scorer in a tough 1-0 contest at Wesleyan.
While the Jumbos outshot the Cardinals 10-7 and held an 8-2 advantage in penalty corners, the slim margin indicated a strong performance in the cage from Wesleyan goalkeeper Tori Redding, who finished the game with seven saves.
For her part, sophomore keeper Brianna Keenan finished her second career start and third collegiate performance with five saves.
“I was really excited to get my first start and first shutout at the collegiate level,” Keenan said. “I’ve worked really hard during the preseason and I knew it was a big game, so I just tried to stay positive and focus on organizing the defense and keeping the ball out of the net.”
On the other hand, the low-scoring result was nothing new to the Tufts-Wesleyan rivalry; in fact, 32 of the teams’ last 33 meetings have been decided by two goals or fewer.
For much of the first half, the Jumbos and Cardinals remained deadlocked, and while each team saw opportunities to score neither managed to capitalize until shortly before intermission.
With less than five minutes remaining in the first period, Karp broke the scoreless tie, putting the Jumbos on the board. After Karp’s first shot was turned away by Redding, senior co-captain Lia Sagerman secured the rebound for the Jumbos and sent it back to Karp, who finished her second look past Redding to make it 1-0.
“We came out strong right from the beginning which I think was essential to our success,” senior defender Liza Wetzel said. “Wesleyan is one of those teams that won’t give up and will battle for the full 70 minutes, so it was really important to get on the board early.”
In the second half, the Cardinals saw several chances to equalize, but Keenan posted several key stops against Wesleyan senior Taryn Murray down the stretch.
“After the half, we knew Wesleyan was going to come out strong to try and tie the game and our defense did a great job of holding them off and keeping them frustrated,” Keenan said. “Communication was definitely a big part of how we kept the ball out of our defensive end and moved it up the field.”
With less than 10 minutes remaining, senior forward Kelsey Perkins looked to double the Jumbos’ advantage, sending a breakaway shot in Redding’s direction. But the goalie rejected Perkins, allowing the Cardinals to stay within a single goal.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score during the game, but we just had trouble finishing the plays and the Wesleyan goalkeeper made some great stops against our forwards,” Keenan said. “The game [during] the second half was definitely more defensive-minded because we knew we had to keep them from scoring.”
A minute later, Murray took a high shot from the right side, threatening to tie late, but Keenan again squandered her attempt and the Jumbos played strong lockdown defense in the closing minutes to preserve the shutout.
“Bri really stepped up in goal for us and came up with some awesome saves,” Wetzel said. “A shutout is always our goal and Bri helped us attain that. It’s really important to have the communication starting from the backfield, and she did a great job organizing our defense.”
“It just felt really good to see us start to click throughout the midfield and to preserve our lead and come away with the shutout,” Wetzel added.
On Wednesday, the Jumbos hit the road again for their fourth straight away game, facing UMass Dartmouth. Tufts is 2-0 in non-conference play, and although the team will take its mid-week challenge seriously, the Jumbos are also aware that a home contest with conference rival Colby lies just a week ahead.
“I think we’re really starting to hit our stride as a team,” Wetzel said. “We’re all really excited to play UMass. [Dartmouth] on Wednesday -— it’s fun when you get to see your team keep improving every game, and makes for an exciting season.”