Men's Soccer | Tufts drops defensive battle to MIT
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 08:10
The men’s soccer team has dropped two in a row after falling to host MIT, 1-0, on Wednesday in a closely contested, defensive affair.
The Jumbos have thrived this season using a simple formula: combine strong play on the backline with opportunistic play up front. On Wednesday, MIT beat Tufts at its own game, relying on 15 saves from junior goalkeeper Sam Cannon and a strong backline to hold off the Jumbos and ultimately squeak out a victory.
Cannon, with a little help from the crossbar, stymied the Jumbos’ offense which had chance after chance from the opening tap to the final whistle. Tufts controlled possession in the first half, only to see each set piece or scoring opportunity in the box end with a deflection off the crossbar or a great save from Cannon.
With just over four minutes remaining in the first half, Cannon came up with what was probably his best save of the day, deflecting a line drive destined for the upper corner just wide of the net to keep the Jumbos off the scoreboard heading into the intermission.
“It was a frustrating way to lose, especially when we had around 30 shots and most of the possession,” sophomore defenseman Connor Schaible said. “It was definitely an opportunity lost, but at the same time, we’re taking a lot of positives out of that game that will be good to utilize in the coming weeks.”
Cannon’s performance masked a stellar game from the Jumbos’ goalkeeper, sophomore Nick Moeser, who was starting in place of injured freshman Scott Greenwood. Moeser tallied seven saves, but it was the one shot that he could not get to that made the difference in the match.
In the 35th minute, the Engineers countered one of Tufts’ many first-half attacks and secured the game-winning goal. Junior midfielder Chester Chambers led a breakaway downfield and lofted the ball up field behind the Jumbos’ defenders. Senior midfielder Matthew Monheit was the first to the ball. He settled the pass and came within a few feet of a fast-approaching Moeser before lacing a shot inside the far post to give the Engineers the lead.
“The MIT goalie played a hell of a game,” Tufts junior defenseman Michael Miele said. “We took 32 shots; 15 were on target. However, we played totally different in each half. The first half we were defensively a bit unorganized, which led to the goal we would normally never give up.”
Neither team would put one in the net in the second half, as the strong play on the backline continued for both teams. The Jumbos outshot the Engineers 32-18 and controlled possession, only to drop one of their more frustrating games of the season.
In all, Tufts has posted seven shutouts this season and held its opponent to under two goals in all but two contests.
While their backline, typically led by Greenwood, has been consistently strong, an alarming trend has developed up front. Since their opening two games of the year, the Jumbos have failed to score more than two goals in a game, and have been shutout four times.
“During the second half, the ball was in their half the entire time, and we looked like the team we know we should be.” Miele said. “Looking forward, we feel really good despite the result.”
With the loss, Tufts fell to 6-4-1 on the year, a disappointing mark for a team that jumped out to a 4-1 start.
“It is a perfect time to get clicking again, as we know we need to finish out these last three games with positive results,” Miele said.
The Jumbos will look to right the ship on Saturday and gain ground in the NESCAC standings when they travel to Williams to take on the 7-3 Ephs. Saturday’s contest is the first of three that Tufts will play against NESCAC opponents to close out the season, with remaining games against Hamilton and Bowdoin.
“Saturday at Williams is a huge game,” Schaible said. “They’re always one of the best teams in the NESCAC, but we feel we match up well against them. We need to get back to playing our game for each of these last three games. They all count for the NESCAC standings, and coming out of these three with nine points is the goal.”