Women's Soccer | With playoff hopes on the line, Jumbos notch easy victory
Aronchick scores first career goal on Senior Day
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 07:10
In a game with major postseason implications, the women’s soccer team stepped up in a big way Saturday afternoon at Kraft Field, drubbing conference rival Hamilton College, 4−0.
The Jumbos entered Saturday’s matchup tied for 10th in the league, on the outside looking in for one of the eight berths in the NESCAC Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Continentals came to Medford sitting comfortably at 8−3−1 as the fourth−place team in the conference.
But from the opening whistle, it was the Jumbos who reeked of desperation and the Continentals who looked all too complacent.
Freshman forward Allie Weiller got things started in the early going, breaking past the Continentals’ defense for a breakaway opportunity in the ninth minute. Weiller’s first shot attempt banged off the upright and trickled right back to her feet. She collected herself and then fired a ball past Continentals keeper Liza Gergenti and into the back of the net for an early 1−0 lead.
“We came into this game knowing we needed to play really well,” junior goalkeeper Kristin Wright said. “It was our senior day, so we were especially pumped up. We wanted to win it for them.”
The Continentals played the Jumbos tough for the remainder of the first half, out−possessing the Jumbos and generating a few scoring chances, all of which were ultimately denied by senior tri−captain keeper Phoebe Hanley, who had a number of clutch saves in the first frame to keep the Jumbos ahead.
Tufts was finally able to extend its lead just before the end of the opening period, when junior Sophie Wojtasinski capitalized on a costly Hamilton mistake in its own zone. The forward anticipated a pass from a Continental defender and wisely stepped in front of the ball just outside the 18−yard box. Before the Hamilton defenders could react, Wojtasinski drilled a ball that deflected off the far post and into the net. Just like that, it was 2−0 Jumbos at the break.
“Getting that first goal was a huge momentum boost for us,” senior tri−captain midfielder Rachel Aronchick said. “It confirmed our belief that we can put the ball in the back of the net, and gave us a nice cushion. We’ve scored six goals in our last two games.”
The Jumbos came out of the intermission intent on putting the game away.
Four minutes into the second frame, they managed to do just that, capitalizing on what was one of only two corner−kick opportunities in the whole game. Junior defender Bizzy Lincoln lofted a ball into the center of the box, and Aronchick managed to leap above the pack, get a head on the ball and direct it past a diving Gergenti and into the lower right corner of the net.
The header, Aronchick’s first ever collegiate goal, gave Tufts a decisive 3−0 lead that it did not relinquish.
Wright entered the game in the second half in place of Hanley and was equally stellar, collecting five saves overall en route to the Jumbos’ seventh shutout of the season.
“This was definitely one of the best games we’ve played this year,” Wright said. “We are really clicking on all cylinders right now.”
For good measure, the Jumbos tacked on a fourth and final goal in the 87th minute, once again coming off a Lincoln−Aronchick connection. This time, Aronchick took a set piece from Lincoln and used her right foot, as opposed to her head, to knock the ball in.
“This was absolutely our best game of the season,” Aronchick said. “We came together and played for each other as a team. We were connecting passes, saving shots and scoring goals. We came out and did everything we needed to do to win.”
With the win, the Jumbos improved to 4−6−3 on the year. However, the sub−.500 record reflects early season struggles that have since been erased, as Tufts is 3−1−2 in its last six matches, a stretch in which the Jumbos blanked five of their opponents.
Now, they are more cohesive and confident than they have been all season.
Still, Saturday’s victory marked only their second conference victory of the season, and the Jumbos will still need some help to make it into the NESCAC tournament. Tufts will close out the regular season against Bowdoin at home on Tuesday. A win combined with some other favorable results around the league could mean postseason action for the Jumbos.
When they play like they did on Saturday, the Jumbos are virtually unbeatable.
“We’re approaching Tuesday’s game like we have nothing to lose,” Wright said. “Everything else is out of our hands, but the one thing we can control is how we play. We’ve said it before: Our record is not reflective of how we’ve played. We’ve come together now at the right time, and we’re confident that we can play with anyone.”