Men's Soccer | Jumbos’ defense suffocates Suffolk, dominates in 3−1 victory
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 07:10
After a blazing start to the season, the Jumbos have cooled off right alongside the temperature, settling into the middle of the NESCAC standings with one win, one loss and three ties in the five games prior to Wednesday’s contest. After last weekend’s draw with a Conn. College side that is winless in conference play, the team was left searching for the early September magic.
But on Wednesday afternoon, Tufts was able to rediscover some of it in a 3−1 win on the road at Suffolk University. Despite a history of success against the Rams, including a 6−1 win in 2011, the Jumbos refused to take the game lightly, especially given their struggles of late.
“Since Conn., we had a team meeting to get ourselves back on track a little bit,” sophomore forward Maxime Hoppenot said. “We just had five games in a row which were conference games, and we can’t have one win, one loss and three ties, which just isn’t good enough.”
Sophomore forward Gus Santos echoed Hoppenot’s sentiments.
“We sat down and talked about what we needed to do to get going early in the game, how we could bring the proper intensity and start the game off right,” Santos said.
The results of the meeting certainly showed against Suffolk, as both the defense and the offense were clicking for the first time in a while for the frustrated Tufts team.
Tufts drew first blood in the 15th minute, when Hoppenot put away a loose ball off the foot of junior midfielder Scott Blumenthal for his fifth goal of the season, giving Tufts the fast start it needed against the tough non−conference Rams.
However, Suffolk refused to go down without a fight, as junior Nick DiCicco scored off a corner kick, sending the equalizer past Tufts’ freshman keeper Nick Moeser, who started his first game of the season, replacing junior Wyatt Zeller.
But only two minutes later, Santos scored what turned out to be the game−deciding goal, off an assist from senior midfielder John Lewis. Santos managed to do what Tufts has not in the past few games: recover after the opponent fights back.
“It was definitely an important goal to get, so soon after Suffolk tied it up,” Santos said. “We’ve gotten down in some of our past games, and it was really good to not let that happen in this one, and not to hang our heads.”
Even though the Jumbos let up a goal in the first half, Hoppenot was impressed with the defensive effort and overall intensity of the team, especially with those being the areas that Tufts has struggled with recently.
“Defensively, we were much better. We gave up one goal which was a deflection off a corner kick, and we created a ton of opportunities offensively,” Hoppenot said. “We could have scored seven goals in the first half, but our finishing wasn’t exactly there. Just in terms of hard work and defense, though, we were much closer to where we should be.”
Hoppenot himself had no trouble finishing, as he provided the Jumbos an insurance goal in the closing minutes of the first half off a corner kick from Lewis to put the Jumbos up 3−1 and effectively end any hope of a Suffolk comeback.
The win against the Rams provided a much needed morale boost for the Jumbos, as their next match will be this weekend against NESCAC−leading Williams, which is ranked 17th nationally.
“This game was really good for us because we were able to get our minds right, and get back to the hard work that got us to get the good start in the first leg of the year,” Hoppenot said.
Looking ahead to Williams, Hoppenot said the team’s game plan is less formulaic, and more about the hard work and effort that he and his teammates need to bring every game. A win against the Ephs, who are currently undefeated in the NESCAC, would also go a long way to securing the Jumbos’ position for the conference playoffs.
“We want to turn them over, really create turnovers as high up the field as possible, so we can run at them more effectively,” Hoppenot said. “But more than anything we just have to look at this as one game. It’s us against the other team, and we’re not going to look at how they’ve done or how we’ve done. We have the mindset that it’s one game, and all we can do is work hard and finish our chances.”