Men's Soccer | Jumbos take down Wesleyan 2-1 to move to 3-0
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 07:09
The men’s soccer team traveled to Middletown, Conn. on Saturday to face NESCAC-rival Wesleyan in what senior co-captain Rafa Ramos-Meyer, a midfielder, previously called “possibly the greatest test of the season.” After scoring twice at the beginning of the second half and holding on for a 2-1 victory, it’s safe to say that the Jumbos passed the test with flying colors and should now be considered one of the early favorites for the conference championship.
With the win, Tufts advanced its perfect mark to 3-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the NESCAC. Both of the Jumbos’ conference wins came on the road against perennial powerhouses Middlebury and Wesleyan, a clear sign of this team’s intentions to compete with and beat the league’s best squads.
“I think those wins say a lot about us,” coach Josh Shapiro said. “I think we’re showing a little bit of maturity beyond our years to go on the road and beat two really good teams.”
After an uninspiring first half from both teams, the breakthrough finally came for Tufts in the 61st minute when senior forward Franco Silva beat Cardinals’ senior tri-captain goalkeeper Adam Purdy for his first goal of the season. Silva typically plays behind sophomore forward Maxime Hoppenot as the Jumbos’ lone striker but is a dangerous scoring threat coming off the bench.
“He’s just a monster athletically, and I think he’s finally figuring out how to put it all together,” Shapiro said. “He’s terrific in the air, and he’s starting to be much smarter about holding the ball and making plays for us.”
“Getting that goal and getting a lead was just vital,” Ramos-Mayer added. “Wesleyan is a really good team, so it was important to get out in front of them like we did.”
Freshman midfielder Jason Kayne picked up the first assist of his career after distributing the ball to Silva from the left side of the box. Senior co-captain defender Pat Bauer was also credited with an assist for keeping the play alive in the Wesleyan end.
Just eight minutes later, Tufts struck again when Hoppenot found the ball at his feet and dribbled past two defenders to give himself space to shoot. He fired a strong right-footed shot to Purdy’s left to beat the senior goalkeeper and double Tufts’ lead.
It was Hoppenot’s third goal of the season and already the ninth of his young career. The sophomore forward, though, was quick to credit his teammates for the success that he’s had thus far.
“I feel like the entire team has been in a good rhythm and chances are falling to me as the striker,” Hoppenot said. “It’s a pleasure playing alongside people like Gus Santos, Kyle Volpe and Jono Edelman up top because they create space for me to run into by taking away defenders.”
Down two goals, the Cardinals answered quickly with a score of their own in the 73rd minute. Sophomore midfielder Matt Hertgen created the chance with a quality long ball to junior forward Henry Karmin. After controlling the pass, Karmin was unfazed by junior goalkeeper Wyatt Zeller, who was charging towards him, and scored with a quality finish over Zeller’s head.
Despite the goal, the Jumbos’ confidence barely wavered, as the team cruised to a 2-1 victory following 20 minutes of solid defensive soccer.
“I never had a doubt in my mind that we were going to win,” Ramos-Mayer said. “They managed to squeak out a goal, but personally, I knew that we were going to get the result that we wanted.”
One key contributor for Tufts both against the Cardinals and throughout the season has been junior defender Luke Booth, who is filling in for sophomore defender Peter Lee-Kramer in the center of the Jumbos’ back line. Lee-Kramer went down with a head injury in the preseason and has yet to return to the Jumbos’ lineup. Although Booth only appeared in six matches in his first two seasons, he has been an extremely capable replacement, showcasing Tufts’ depth at nearly every position.
“His play just shows the effort from everyone coming back from last season,” Ramos-Mayer said. “It really is a testament to the quality that we have on our roster, and the people that are dedicated to improving.”
“Luke has done phenomenal, and he’s done enough to make it hard for [Lee-Kramer] to get his job back,” Shapiro added. “You have to be able to absorb injuries to your key guys
and Luke has definitely helped us do that.”