Men’s Soccer | Tufts fall to Amherst, respond with win against Trinity
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, October 3, 2013 02:10
The men’s soccer team lost its second game of the year on Saturday to the third-ranked nationally Amherst Lord Jeffs before returning home to top Trinity 2-0 less than 24 hours later. Tufts now holds a respectable 3-2 mark against in-conference opponents in what has been a competitive NESCAC season this year.
Tufts’ win over the weekend came on Sunday to take on the second-ranked team in the NESCAC, Trinity College. Just like the Lord Jeffs from the day before, the Bantams entered their matchup with the Jumbos undefeated. But Sunday’s contest would prove to be their toughest test yet.
The first half looked to be an uneventful one until lightning struck in the final moments. With less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame, a foul on the Bantams’ side of the field gave the Jumbos a free kick opportunity from about 35 yards away. Sophomore midfielder Rui Pinheiro lofted the set piece deep into the opponent’s penalty box. Bantam keeper freshman Domenic Quade left his line to try to punch the ball out, when junior defenseman Sam Williams broke free past his defender and struck a diving header into the back of the net. Williams’ first goal of the season gave Tufts a 1-0 edge heading into intermission.
Both teams came out firing in the early stages of the second half, but neither backline cracked. Greenwood made two nice saves to keep the Bantams scoreless, and the Jumbos tacked on an insurance tally in the 67th minute, with a one-timer from sophomore midfielder Connor Brown. The 2-0 score would hold.
“Every NESCAC game is tough, and Trinity is a team that’s always tough to beat,” junior midfielder Kento Nakamura said. “They’re very aggressive and very competitive, and at the end of the day the score is a little deceptive because it wasn’t an easy game at all. Having said that, we didn’t play to our full potential. There’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
With the victory, Tufts improved to 5-2-1 on the year and posted its sixth shutout of the season. While the play of the team has been inconsistent at times, the excellence on the backline has been constant.
“We have been playing well as a defense this year, and keeping a clean sheet is our priority in every game,” Williams said.
Senior striker Scott Blumenthal also gave positive remarks about the Tufts defense.
“Having let up the fewest goals in the NESCAC thus far, I couldn’t be more impressed, and I have a lot of confidence in our defense to keep the ball out of the net each game,” he said.
Tufts’ first game of the weekend was a matchup at Amherst. The Lord Jeffs have clearly established themselves as the class of the conference, boasting a 7-0-1 record and a total of 16 points on the season, six higher than second-place Trinity. Amherst has carried over its success from last season, currently sporting a 28-game unbeaten streak.
Beating Amherst is one thing, but winning on its turf has proven almost impossible for opponents in recent years. Tufts held strong in the early going, and freshman keeper Scott Greenwood continued his stellar rookie season, making great save after great save, including a diving stop on an Amherst penalty shot in the early going.
Amherst finally broke through in the 33rd minute. The Lord Jeffs worked the ball around the Tufts 18-yard box, putting Jumbo defenders on their heels. After a shot from just outside the box was deflected by Greenwood, a loose ball ensued in front of the net and an Amherst striker was able to get a foot on the ball and deposit it into the top right corner for the game’s first goal. The goal was only the second Greenwood had allowed all season.
The Lord Jeffs controlled the time of possession and pace of play for much of the contest. The Jumbos had a few chances but were unable to capitalize. Amherst delivered the knockout blow in the 51st minute with a ringing shot from sophomore forward Greg Singer that found the back of the net.
“They’re clearly a great team in our conference,” Nakamura said. “But looking back on Saturday’s loss, we gained some confidence because there were some moments where we played our game, used the width of the field and had some chances. We know that if we impose our will, impose our physicality and impose our style of play we can make even a team as good as Amherst vulnerable.”
The Jumbos’ remaining schedule poses tough competition but compensates with plenty of time off. Following six days of rest, the team will return to action on Saturday hosting Middlebury College, another tough NESCAC opponent. The Jumbos then won’t see action for an entire week before taking on Connecticut College in their homecoming matchup on Oct. 12. In total, Tufts will play only six games in October, five of which will be against NESCAC opponents.
“With this time off, we just have to keep improving with every practice,” Nakamura said. “I think the biggest difference between last year and this year is the depth of our team. There’s no doubt it’s a tough schedule down the wire, but the depth of our team will help us. We have a lot of freshmen who have been getting more playing time, and our chemistry continues to improve with each game.”