Field Hockey | Jumbos split results over weekend, pick up first loss
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 09:10
The No. 2 field hockey team suffered its first loss over the weekend, dropping a 3-0 decision to No. 14 Amherst College on the road in the first game of a NESCAC doubleheader weekend. The grueling schedule tested the Jumbos’ athleticism and resilience, but after a 6:30 a.m. wake up, more than four hours on the road and a tough loss on Saturday, the Jumbos rebounded. On Sunday, Tufts returned home to Bello Field, defeating the Trinity Bantams by a single goal.
“We had to bounce back on Sunday because Trinity is also a very strong team, but we learned from the previous day’s mistakes and were able to come out on top,” senior defender Katy McConnell said.
The weekend split moved Tufts to 4-1 in the conference where they currently share a three-way tie for first place with the Amherst Lord Jeffs and the No. 7 Middlebury.
On Sunday, Tufts rode an early second half score to victory. Tufts and Trinity duked it out in the midfield for the first 45 minutes, but despite five shots, the Jumbos were unable to find the back of the cage. The Bantams, on the other hand, went without a single shot for the first half of the game.
Entering the intermission tied at 0-0, coach Tina McDavitt’s squad was determined to finish the weekend on a high note. Ten minutes into the second period, the Jumbos earned a penalty corner. Sophomore defender Alexandra Jamison inserted to classmate and midfielder Dakota Sikes-Keilp at the top of the circle. Sikes-Keilp buried a shot past Trinity second-year keeper Sophie Fitzpatrick to put Tufts on the board.
The Jumbos maintained their single-goal lead for the final 25 minutes. Despite Fitzpatrick’s nine-save effort, the Bantams could not capture the victory, as Tufts limited them to just seven shots and two penalty corners throughout the contest. With the win, the Jumbos handed Trinity their second conference loss of 2013.
“Coming into Sunday’s game we knew that we had to play hard and bounce back from the loss on Saturday,” senior co-captain midfielder Steph Wan said. “Taking what we learned from Saturday, we focused on moving up and down the field as a unit and using our stick and passing to move the ball upfield. Having intensity and hustling to every ball helped us clinch the win.”
Things did not go so smoothly for Tufts on Saturday. The Lord Jeffs pounced early and preserved their lead through regulation to upset the defending national champions. Amherst’s squad, assistant coached by former Jumbos’ standout midfielder Lindsay Griffith (LA ’12), was well prepared for Tufts’ passing patterns and formations, allowing the Lord Jeffs to effectively beat Tufts at its own game.
The Jumbos, who have characteristically dominated offensive possessions, shots and penalty corner opportunities this season, failed to possess and put the ball in the back of the cage throughout regulation. Instead, it was the Lord Jeffs who outshot Tufts 13 to eight, forcing junior keeper Bri Keenan to make nine saves in the losing effort.
On Amherst’s opening offensive possession, the Lord Jeffs pressured the cage hard, forcing Keenan to make a diving stop in front of the net. On the rebound, however, Keenan fell on top of the ball, and Amherst was awarded a penalty stroke on the play. The Lord Jeffs made the Jumbos pay. Senior forward Krista Zsitvay took the stroke, and polished off a top shelf look past Keenan to put Amherst in the drivers seat at the 2:27 mark.
Just two minutes later, the Lord Jeffs doubled their advantage. Junior forward Madeline Tank, waiting to the left of the cage, received a pass across the circle from sophomore forward Katie Paolano and finished an empty net look behind Keenan, who had overcommitted in the other direction.
Facing an early deficit, Tufts attempted to turn the tide in its favor. After a team timeout, the Jumbos worked to move the ball and possession passed back and forth as each team worked the midfield but failed to move the ball inside the 25-meter box.
Eventually, Amherst broke through yet again. This time Paolano positioned herself on the left side of the cage and finished a low put-back goal after shots by Zsitvay and Tank could not be converted to goals for the Lord Jeffs.
Entering the second half with a 3-0 lead, Amherst kept its cool. The Lord Jeffs saw opportunities to further extend their lead, but Keenan remained composed and came charging out of the cage to reject several breakaway and corner attempts.
Despite racking up eight penalty corners in the second half, the Jumbos were unable to capitalize. Amherst junior goalkeeper Rachel Tannenbaum made five saves total en route to preserving her shutout performance.
“Saturday’s game was tough,” McConnell said. “Amherst always has a strong team and this year was no different. While we were disappointed with the loss, the game showed us what we need to work on for the second half of the season.”
Now, the Jumbos enjoy a full week to recover before lacing up to face Middlebury at home on Oct. 5. The Panthers begin the week with an identical 4-1 NESCAC record, and as Amherst now holds a head-to-head advantage over the Jumbos, a victory over the Panthers may prove crucial should the top ranks of the conference remain tight late in the season.