Women's Soccer | Tufts loses to Wesleyan, debuts new formation
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 07:09
The 4-3-3 formation has long been a tenet of coach Martha Whiting’s program, and its successfulness speaks for itself: Whiting is 132-58-23 all time, and has led the team to four NCAA appearances, two NCAA Final Fours and one National Championship game in her 13-year career.
But Saturday marked the end of an era, as the Jumbos, after a rocky start to the scene, debuted their new 4-5-1 formation on the road against Wesleyan. And while the final score didn’t go their way — a disappointing 1-0 defeat to the Cardinals, the team that knocked them out of the NESCAC tournament less than a year ago — the young squad’s play was crisper and smoother, in part thanks to their new tactics.
“We were able to possess the ball a little bit better,” junior striker Anya Kaufmann said. “I think that was due to the formation, because those outside [midfielders] were more available to the center [midfielders].”
“The new formation gives the defense more passing options [because] we now have two additional outside midfielders to look for,” sophomore center back Catharine Greer added. “The outside midfielders also help out a lot with defending since the opponents usually have two or more players stringing passes together on the outside flanks.”
Tufts was still working the kinks out early on, and Wesleyan was the first to get a strong attempt when, in the eighth minute, sophomore midfielder Claire Ashforth forced junior keeper Kristin Wright into a save. Senior defender Kaylin Berger had a chance for a follow-up shot, but her effort went wide.
After the opening 15 minutes, the Jumbos found a foothold in the game and started creating opportunities. Sophomore midfielder Carla Kruyff, starting her second straight game in place of injured senior tri-captain Alyssa Von Puttkammer (concussion), forced sophomore goalie Jessica Tollman into her first save of the afternoon. Not long after, Tufts had its best chance of the half when junior Sophie Wojtasinski, playing on the left wing in the 4-5-1 after starting the season at left back, got in behind and challenged the keeper. But Tollman was up to the task, parrying the ball and sending the rebound out of harm’s way.
Wesleyan finally broke the deadlock just minutes into the second half with a goal from a set piece. A corner was played in and deflected off a Tufts player and onto the foot of senior forward Laura Kurash. The striker took her chance well, earning her team its first goal of the season.
“Our defenders were not staying tight enough on our marks, and unfortunately one of the Wesleyan players was able to get a shot off and capitalized on the opportunity,” Greer said. “I think overall we were doing a fine job with defending the Wesleyan players
However, just one second of complacency can result in a goal against us.”
The Jumbos began a barrage on the Cardinals’ goal, ripping off five shots in the first nine minutes following Wesleyan’s strike. It seemed like the new tactics were finally coming together for Tufts.
“After their goal, we got really aggressive and had a ton of shots,” Kaufmann said. “But we just couldn’t put it in.”
Kaufmann was the author of the team’s best chance of that spurt, chasing down a long ball played down the line and getting off a shot that beat the keeper but just caught the inside of the crossbar and stayed out. Still, Kaufmann enjoyed her new positioning as a lone striker.
“It gives me a lot of freedom to make runs that I like to make and to sneak along the backline and find through balls,” said Kaufmann, who split time up top with sophomore Alina Okamoto.
In the end, the Jumbos took eight shots in the second half and forced Tollman into five saves. But they couldn’t find the back of the net, and in the end lost their second straight conference game — an especially frustrating one, at that.
“This is the first time we lost to Wesleyan in a while, besides the playoff game last year,” Kaufmann said. “And that was a stinger, because we really didn’t want to lose to them again.”