Men’s Soccer | Tufts opens with convincing victory over Bates
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 08:09
The men’s soccer team opened its 2013 campaign on Saturday with a bang, upending NESCAC rival Bates, 3-0. Today, Tufts will bring the show back to Somerville to take on Suffolk University in its home opener on Kraft Field.
Saturday’s season opener could not have gone much better for a Tufts team that showed tremendous promise in 2012, going 9-4-4 and finishing fourth in a competitive NESCAC conference. The Jumbos dominated from the first whistle, controlling the pace of play, time of possession, set pieces and shots on goal. Even so, Tufts looks to take their play to the next level in preparation for stiffer competition.
“I think that the team is getting more confident everyday,” junior midfielder Kyle Volpe said. “Although we won, I believe every player on the team realized that there was still plenty of room for improvement.”
The Jumbos not only created scoring chances on Saturday — they converted them. The team netted its first goal of the season in the first half before tacking on two insurance goals in the second.
The first goal came in the 26th minute, when sophomore midfielder Rui Pinheiro delivered a through ball to junior forward Max Hoppenot. Hoppenot, who netted a team-high of seven goals last season, faced a one-on-one opportunity against Bates sophomore goalkeeper Zach Shabman. After settling the ball, Hoppenot delivered a strike that snuck past Shabman into the back of the net for the Jumbos’ first goal of the year.
Tufts continued to apply pressure for much of the first half before delivering the knockout blows in the second frame. In the 69th minute, Volpe took a cross from sophomore midfielder Connor Brown and deposited the ball into the back of the net. Sophomore forward Tal Smith delivered the finishing touches with a goal in the 86th minute.
“Most of the work on my goal was done by [Brown], who beat the outside back and sent in a great cross,” Volpe said of his goal. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Freshman goalkeeper Scott Greenwood held his own in net, posting a shutout with two saves.
“We have 100 percent confidence in Scott and the rest of our goalkeepers,” junior defenseman Michael Miele said. “The competition [among] the group is so high that we know each one of them is prepared come game time.”
The Jumbos’ first test of the year went exactly as they drew it up. Next, they will try to build on their early momentum against a Suffolk team that has not won a game in three chances this season. Tufts will get its next crack at a NESCAC opponent Saturday at home versus Colby, but for now the Jumbos are not looking past Suffolk.
“We take the season one game at a time,” Miele said. “Right now, we are only focused on Suffolk. We know Suffolk has some quality players that will punish us if we are not focused.”