Field Hockey | Jumbos improve to 11-1 after win over Ephs
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 08:10
The No. 3 field hockey team returned to NESCAC competition this weekend, making the three-hour drive to Williamstown to face the Ephs, who entered the game with a 2-5 conference record. Despite a buzzer beater score from Williams to pull within one, Tufts escaped with a 3-2 win — though the result was closer than head coach Tina McDavitt’s squad might have hoped.
“Winning on Saturday was really important because Williams is a good team and every conference game is important, since we want good seeding in the NESCAC tournament,” sophomore defender Alexandra Jamison said.
The Jumbos came out of the gates fast, earning a series of quality offensive possessions and penalty corner opportunities in the opening 10 minutes of play. Minutes later, Tufts capitalized on one such corner. Jamison tallied her first collegiate goal at the 12:13 mark, receiving the ball inside the 16-meter circle and firing a shot past the Ephs senior keeper Ariana Spiliotes for the early Tufts advantage.
“In practice we emphasize being ready on the post and after the shot from [senior co-captain Steph Wan] that hit the post and came back into the circle, [Jamison] was ready and pushed the ball home,” senior All-American center midfielder Emily Cannon said.
Just two minutes later, Williams responded with a strike of its own. Following Jamison’s score, the Ephs worked the ball into their own offensive zone. Senior midfielder Emily Jablonski found junior forward Caitlin Conlon in front of the goal to finish the equalizer.
With the game again tied in knots, both teams looked to break the dead heat. Finally, Tufts sophomore midfielder Dakota Sikes-Keilp put a ball through to Cannon. Cannon finished the shot past Spiliotes to put the Jumbos back on top with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
“We worked really hard to keep using our system, our layers and good passing patterns to push the ball up the field,” junior defender Colleen Golja said. “Communication and trust are always key as well, and I think we just took it back to basics trying to look for one good pass, one good receive at a time.”
Just three minutes into the second stanza, the Jumbos threatened again. Cannon and Sikes-Keilp each took aim on goal, but Spiliotes managed to get a piece of the ball each time.
Tufts eventually broke through once more in the 52nd minute, when Jamison connected with Sikes-Keilp on a penalty corner to give the Jumbos a two-goal advantage.
As the second half wore on the Ephs pressed forward, using quick passes to create scoring opportunities. Unfortunately for Williams, the squad’s efforts were fruitless for the majority of the period.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, however, the Ephs broke through for a final score. Williams drew a series of late penalty corners, and as time expired, Jablonski found the boards to make it 3-2.
“Williams did a good job of keeping the pressure and always having two people on us. However, we never gave up and worked on drawing corners and keeping the ball in our offensive half to help preserve the win,” Cannon said.
Without weekday games approaching, the Jumbos have five full days to prepare for their next opponents. They must gear up for an even longer roadtrip, this time to Clinton, N.Y. to face the Hamilton Continentals on Oct. 26.
“Looking forward to Hamilton, we are working hard to push each other at practice every day and mentally prepare for another challenging game,” Golja said.
“Every NESCAC win is big and this is no different,” Cannon added. “We are working on situational plays and how we would break out or defend them. We are looking forward to Hamilton this weekend, and since it’s our last road game we hope we go out with a win.”
Although their eyes are focused on the game ahead of them, somewhere in the back of the Jumbos’ minds lie thoughts of the upcoming postseason, now just two games away.