Field Hockey | Tufts jumps out early at Babson, preserves lead late
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 12:09
The No. 16 women’s field hockey team rebounded from a season-opening loss to No. 2 Middlebury on Tuesday evening, defeating Babson by a narrow 3-2 margin on Babson home turf.
Senior co-captain Lia Sagerman led the charge with two goals and an assist, helping the Jumbos to a quick 3-0 lead. The Jumbos let the Beavers back into the game, but after allowing two goals, the slim lead held, marking the Jumbos’ first victory of the 2012 season.
Sagerman notched her first goal just three minutes in, dribbling the ball down the right wing before closing on Babson goalkeeper Kayla Florence and besting her with a close-range strike to give Tufts an early advantage.
Midway through the first half, the Jumbos found the back of the goal again, and, this time, Sagerman found herself on the assisting end. The senior pushed the ball up to team-leading goalscorer and junior forward Chelsea Yogerst, who took the pass and handily slipped it past Florence to double the Jumbos’ lead.
Minutes later, freshman midfielder Alexandra Jamison made her first contribution as a Jumbo, finding Sagerman on a long pass to set up the Jumbos’ third score of the contest.
“We knew we had to come out really strong against Babson,” Sagerman said. “We were able to get possession and make smart passes early, which enabled us to get some opportunities in the circle. I think scoring right away helped us seize momentum.”
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, the Beavers closed within two of the Jumbos when senior co-captain Kelly Walsh secured the rebound off a Babson penalty corner and beat junior keeper Katie Stuntz, putting the hosts on the scoreboard.
Coming out of the intermission, the Jumbos continued to pressure, but Florence stepped up to make a series of impressive saves and keep the Beavers in the contest, rejecting Jumbos’ senior forward Missy Karp on a breakaway and turning junior midfielder Emily Cannon back twice as well.
Babson played its best field hockey during the second half, pressuring Tufts’ young defense and peppering sophomore goalkeeper Brianna Kennan, who replaced Stuntz after halftime, with shots.
For her part, Keenan made five saves in the second half, and showed her fearlessness, coming out of the cage to attack the ball for several crucial saves. But eventually, Babson sophomore forward Caroline Malone broke through, securing a long cross, and then her own rebound, to score past an overextended Keenan.
“We came out fired up with a lot of intensity and after we scored three goals, we started to relax and our intensity wavered,” Cannon said. “But whenever we noticed that we kept bringing the intensity back and kept attacking.”
In the closing minutes, with the game on the line, the Jumbos held down the fort, refusing to concede another goal. The result was their first win of the season against a tough squad.
“Babson is an incredibly fit team,” Sagerman said. “After we got ahead early, they were able to capitalize on a few of our mistakes, and the score was a little closer than we would have liked. But in the end, we were able to maintain composure and pull out the road win.”
Now, the Jumbos hope to carry the momentum from Tuesday’s game into their second NESCAC contest, which comes this Saturday at Wesleyan. For head coach Tina McDavitt’s squad, this weekend is a chance to reestablish itself among the conference’s — and the country’s — elite by earning its first 2012 NESCAC victory.
Tufts hope they can capitalize on their chances against Wesleyan, who enter Saturday’s contest 0-2 following losses to No. 5 Bowdoin and unranked Wellesley College. Despite the record, Tufts knows that no team can be taken lightly in the NESCAC.
“The NESCAC is by far the most competitive league in Div. III hockey,” Sagerman said.
“The rankings illustrate that. Every NESCAC game matters and the competitive energy is so strong that anything can really happen,” she said.