Men's Soccer | Tufts crushes Bates, falls to Amherst this weekend
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 07:10
On paper, the men’s soccer team should be a legitimate contender for the conference championship finals, with a likely chance of gaining an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Jumbos, now 5-1-2 overall and 3-1-2 in the NESCAC, have played up those high expectations in most matches. But at other times they have fallen prey to stretches of offensive lethargy, failing to either play with urgency or to consistently finish the offensive chances that they have generated.
The team’s weekend mirrored its season: a disappointing 2-0 loss to the Lord Jeffs on Saturday and a dominant 4-0 victory over the Bobcats on Sunday. But because of the striking disparity in quality between Amherst, the second-ranked team in the country, and Bates, the lowest-ranked team in the NESCAC, the results were to be expected and don’t say much about how the second half of the regular season will play out.
On Sunday, the Jumbos faced the hapless Bobcats on the turf at Bello Field. The Bobcats are now 0-5-1 in NESCAC matches and have allowed 13 goals, while scoring only two in conference play.
Last season, Tufts topped Bates with an overtime golden goal on a corner kick in the 103rd minute. Then-junior midfielder Rafa Ramos-Meyer played the ball into the box to then-freshman midfielder Kyle Volpe, who headed it home for the Jumbos’ seventh victory of the year.
But the Jumbos had little to worry about this year, however, as Tufts dominated play from the opening kickoff and saw little resistance from the visiting Bobcats. Tufts outshot Bates 17-5 overall and dominated the 9-2 in shots on goal. Junior goalkeeper Wyatt Zeller, a steady though unsung contributor thus far, recorded his fifth shutout, pulling him into a tie for first in the conference.
“I think he’s done really well for someone who came in with so little playing time under his belt,” sophomore forward Maxime Hoppenot said. “He has matured with every passing game.”
“As a goalkeeper, I couldn’t be happier and more impressed with the defensive back four and holding midfielders,” Zeller added. “I think that a strong, trustworthy relationship has formed between the back line and myself, which is crucial for success at this level. The defense has created a no-nonsense mindset within the team, and I believe it has spread to other players on the field.”
Tufts’ first goal came in the 11th minute. Sophomore midfielder Gus Santos, the reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year, capitalized on a Bates turnover. He dribbled the ball to the top of the box and sent a low shot to the corner, beating the Bobcats’ freshman goalkeeper Sam Polito to give the Jumbos an early advantage that they didn’t relinquish.
“His goal was great because Bates had just played at Hamilton and had two long bus rides, so it was important to not even give them hope of getting any points out of the game,” Hoppenot said. “If we had had trouble scoring, they would have gotten some momentum, and it would have been a completely different game.”
In the 32nd minute, junior midfielder Scott Blumenthal added another goal, his first of the season. Santos, who was credited with the assist, created the chance after taking a shot that was saved by Polito. Blumenthal hammered home the rebound into an open goal to double the Jumbos’ advantage.
Tufts added two more scores in the second half en route to its most lopsided victory of the season. Senior co-captain defender Pat Bauer, more known for his defensive prowess at left back than his attacking ability, scored the first goal of his collegiate career in the 60th minute. Sophomore midfielder Mike Miele also registered his first collegiate goal after volleying in a cross from freshman midfielder Rui Pinheiro.
The four-goal performance, according to Zeller, was just the offensive explosion that Tufts needed to regain its form after scoring just one goal in its three previous matches.
“We were able to recover from the first loss of the season, a 0-1-2 stretch, and our worst period of soccer thus far by taking advantage of the turf field, scoring four goals and dominating the style of play,” Zeller said. “It was great to see us dictate the terms of the soccer game — something we haven’t done for an entire 90 minute period — and put a team away early.”
Saturday was a completely different story for the Jumbos.
At last year’s Homecoming, a raucous crowd and two first-half goals from Hoppenot rallied Tufts to a 2-1 win against Williams. The energized crowd showed up again on Saturday, but the Jumbos were unable to do anything offensively to excite it. The Jumbos registered a single shot on goal and only created a handful of dangerous scoring chances against the Lord Jeffs.
“We got sucked into playing their style of play which was not to our advantage at all, and we had a little bit of trouble recovering and finding our feet throughout the game,” Hoppenot said.
Amherst scored both of its goals in the first half. In the 9th minute, junior forward Jae Heo struck after a long throw-in from senior quad-captain midfielder Chris Lerner and sloppy defense at the back post from the Jumbos.