Women's Lacrosse | Jumbos improve to 3-3 in NESCAC with win over Ephs
Published: Monday, April 9, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 9, 2012 12:04
After suffering through a bit of a midseason slump, the No. 12 women’s lacrosse team officially righted the ship against Williams on Saturday at Bello Field, earning a critical win against one of its biggest conference rivals. Despite Williams’ winless record in the NESCAC entering the game, the team had lost its previous three conference contests by a single goal, and they proved their mettle for most of Saturday’s matchup until Tufts eventually pulled away for a 17-12 victory.
The result was a good sign for Tufts’ offense, which struggled mightily during the team’s three consecutive losses to Colby, Middlebury and Trinity. After several changes to the offensive structure, the team has averaged 15.5 goals in its two latest wins.
“We’ve adjusted our offense in the past two weeks, and the improvements have really begun to pay off,” sophomore midfielder Kate Applegate, who scored two goals in the game, both on free position shots, said. “We’ve become much more effectively dynamic, with less chaos in the middle of the eight-meter. A lot of it has come from basic changes, like setting the attack 21 yards from the goal. It allows for more plays to develop, as well as the opportunity for individuals to drive.”
Junior attackman Kerry Eaton thrived under the improved system, notching five goals in the high-scoring affair. Eaton now has 23 goals on the season and is one of five Jumbos with double-digit goals this spring. Senior attackman Kelly Hyland also netted four goals in the victory while frequently quarterbacking the offense from behind the net.
Despite the lopsided final score, the Ephs fought hard throughout the game, and even pulled to within two after a tally by sophomore Stephanie Gallo. However, the Jumbos responded with six unanswered goals, including three by Eaton and two by senior attackman Emily Pillemer that put the game away for good.
“From a defender’s perspective, I thought our attack played great,” senior tri-captain Katie Lotz said. “They looked really dynamic, and were making smart passes and had great patience. They held the ball when we needed them to and looked really confident at all times which is so important.”
The victory was a critical one for Tufts, which moved to 3-3 in the NESCAC, tying with Amherst for the fifth place in the standings. The dominating nature of the win was almost equally important, as it gives the team a confidence boost with four conference games left before the playoffs.
“Getting this win made us feel like we were back on track and gave us a lot of confidence and proved that we really have improved a lot in the past week,” Lotz said. “If we could play those other NESCAC games again that we lost, I think the outcomes would be really different. Also, we hate Williams, so we all had the attitude of refusing to lose the game.”
The team will try to make it three wins in a row on Thursday with a home game against Wheaton, the squad’s last non-conference contest of the regular season. Then, the schedule will get much more difficult, as three of the last four games are on the road, including a critical matchup against No. 11 Amherst on Saturday.
“With only five games left, it’s very easy to jump ahead and think about the postseason,” Applegate said. “However, we’re focusing on taking one game at a time. We’re looking to progress with our attack and improve working as a unit from endline to endline for the entire 60 minutes of the game.”
Regardless of the tough schedule ahead, the past two games have shown the Jumbos that when they play their best, they can compete with any team in the conference.
“We’re going to keep working on being more aggressive on the 50-50 balls, making sure we keep being dynamic all over the field like we have been the past two games, and stay[ing] confident and positive,” Lotz said. “It’s important for us to get a good seed in the NESCAC tournament and make it into NCAAs, so every game from now on is that much more crucial. We can’t really afford any more losses.”