Men's Soccer | Tufts falls on homecoming in OT battle with Conn. College
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 02:10
Despite playing in front of a raucous homecoming crowd this past Saturday, the men’s soccer team was unable to channel the energetic atmosphere into a win against Connecticut College, falling 2-1 in double overtime.
The team started off the game better than it ended it, playing its typical attacking style for much of the first half, apparently feeding off of a supportive crowd.
“The fans were awesome, and we had a great crowd,” senior tri-captain Scott Blumenthal said. “I think everyone was a little more jacked up than usual at the start, but we were able calm ourselves for the start of the game.”
Despite the extra motivation, Tufts was unable to put any substantial pressure on the Connecticut keeper, getting only one shot off in the first 30 minutes of play. The Camels were similarly challenged offensively, as for much of the first half, both teams constantly found themselves getting trapped on the outside with nowhere to go with the ball.
Late in the first half, however, the Jumbos finally struck, when Blumenthal netted his second goal of the season.
“Monil [Patel] played a great ball in from the corner,” Blumenthal said. “We were able to get a couple [people] in the box, and I think Maxime [Hoppenot] got a foot on it, and then I was just able to connect on the end of it and put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Jumbos were able to maintain their one-goal lead going into halftime and appeared to be on the path to their third straight victory in the NESCAC. However, the second half was a different story than the first.
“It was definitely a very tight first half and the stronger of our two halves,” Blumenthal said. “I think we were kind of getting stuck in the tackles more in the first half and just fighting for it more, and I think we lost that mentality in the second half.” Although the second half remained a defensive struggle, Conn. College came out of the break with noticeably more energy and aggression. The Camels drew three offside calls in the first 16 minutes as they consistently tried to push the ball down the field, and forced the Jumbos keeper, freshman Scott Greenwood, into his first save of the day. Greenwood, though, was not able to keep the Camels off the board much longer, when sophomore forward Matthew Bitchell took the ball down the right side of the field and sent in a cross to classmate midfielder Daniel Adair. Adair took a clear shot at the net and sent the ball past Greenwood for the equalizer.
“It was kind of a second runner toward the top of the box,” junior defenseman Sam Williams said. “We picked up the first guy coming in, but they had a midfielder coming in after those guys, and the cross went to the top of the box, and we didn’t cut the cross out. I stepped to pressure him, but he got it through my legs. It was pretty unlucky.”
The rest of the half saw both teams battling for field position and struggling to generate quality chances. The Jumbos and Camels managed only one shot apiece after the goal and entered overtime tied 1-1.
“I don’t think we bounced back from that goal very well,” Williams said. “Typically when a team scores on you, you try to pick it back up and get your energy back. We weren’t really able to do that.”
Conn. College continued to bring the pressure on a suddenly lagging Tufts team, forcing Greenwood into two more saves in the first overtime.
In the second overtime, the Camel attack finally broke through for the game-winning golden goal when senior tri-captain Billy Hawkey received a pass downfield from sophomore back Colin Patch. Hawkey was left one-on-one with Greenwood and sent the ball past the diving goalie’s fingertips for the game-winning goal.
For the Jumbos, the loss does not diminish another successful season but instead has given them more reason to strive for improvement.
“I think we just need to keep our energy up and be tough, and play as a team,” Williams said. “We’re trying to keep it positive, and it’s really in our hands now. The conference is really tight, but if we get results the rest of the way we’ll be in the competition for second place.”