Men's Soccer | Tufts struggles to finish games over weekend, draws twice
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
After an impressive 4-0-0 start to the season, the men’s soccer team could only manage draws this weekend against Colby and Trinity despite handily outplaying both opponents. Previously ranked No. 22 nationally and No. 3 in New England, the Jumbos will almost certainly tumble in the rankings following these disappointing results.
“We were in control of those matches,” coach Josh Shapiro said. “The problem was that we weren’t assertive enough. We weren’t forceful enough to really create the types of chances that we needed to score goals.”
On Sunday, Tufts conceded the match’s first goal just before halftime. In the 43rd minute, Trinity’s freshman defender Josh LeBlanc floated a cross from the right wing to junior quad-captain Shaun McGann in the box. McGann, a defender, hit a well-struck volley at goal, beating junior goalkeeper Wyatt Zeller. Zeller got a hand on the shot but was unable to keep the ball out of the back of the net.
The Jumbos responded in the 57th minute, however, with a goal from freshman Jason Kayne. The first year midfielder found the ball at his feet after a wild skirmish in front of the net. After gaining control of the ball, he sent a shot towards the far post where it careened off of a Trinity defender and crossed the line to even the score. It was Tufts’ only goal of the weekend but according to sophomore midfielder Gus Santos a well-deserved tally.
“We began the second half dictating the game and outplaying them in every aspect,” Santos said. “We kept threatening their back four defenders, and the goal was a product of pressuring their defenders, getting the ball back and finishing an opportunity in the penalty box.”
Kayne earned the first two starts of his career against Colby and Trinity after sophomore midfielder Kyle Volpe, who typically starts at the attacking center midfield position, went down with an injury. Kayne has struck twice for the Jumbos this season but has earned praise more for his steady mentality than attacking ability.
“Jason really brings terrific composure,” Shapiro said. “He’s an unflappable kid who is always very tuned in and always has good ideas out there. He’s just a very crafty player.”
Tufts dominated the rest of the second half and throughout overtime against Trinity, producing several scoring chances. The best opportunity came in overtime when sophomore goalkeeper Jason Katz had to dive to stop what would have been a game-winning goal. Katz made 12 saves for the Bantams and was kept busy by a Jumbos attack that dominated play and outshot Trinity 19-7 overall and 16-2 after halftime.
“We probably had five or six really good chances inside the six-yard box in the second half against Trinity, but we didn’t take any of them,” Shapiro said. “So I think we did what we should have done to try and win that game, but we were just unable to get that second goal.”
Against Colby on Saturday, Tufts failed to create much of anything going forward. The best opportunity probably came in the first half, when senior co-captain midfielder Rafa Ramos-Meyer sent a hard volley just above the crossbar. In the second half, senior forward Franco Silva created a few chances linking up on the left wing with Santos. After 110 minutes of play, however, Tufts was forced to settle for a 0-0 draw.
In three NESCAC games this season, the Mules have yet to score a goal but are known for a packed-in defensive style that makes it difficult for opponents to generate dangerous scoring opportunities.
“Credit Colby for playing a disciplined game,” Shapiro said. “We didn’t show enough initiative, ball speed or ability in attacking areas to break them down.”
On Saturday, the Jumbos return to Kraft Field to take on Amherst, last year’s conference champions and the No. 3 team in the nation. Last season, the Jumbos were embarrassed by the Lord Jeffs, falling 3-0 for their most lopsided loss of the season. While it may be a daunting task, there is no better way for the Jumbos to regain their momentum than with a solid showing against the league’s top squad.