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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Women's soccer team wins emotional 2-1 victory

Saturday's victory over Trinity was important to the women's soccer team for two reasons - for six seniors, it was the last regular-season home game, and it guaranteed the teem a berth in the NESCAC playoffs.

Kraft Field has been a successful stomping ground for the Jumbo seniors, and the dramatic, come-from-behind 2-1 victory watched by over 1,000 fans added icing to the cake. In the past two years, the team has only dropped two home games, compared to 18 wins.

"We just wanted to go out and play hard," said senior midfielder Katie Kehrberger. "I love our field and the home crowds. We definitely wanted to play well for all of our friends and families."

And appropriately, it was a pair of seniors who combined for the winning goal of the game. Midway through the second half, Kehrberger sent a corner kick to midfielder Sara Standish, who was waiting unmarked near the right goalpost. The goal capped the comeback win, which moved Tufts into a tie for third place in the NESCAC and guaranteed it spot in the conference postseason tournament.

"It felt good, especially to come from behind," senior co-captain Lynn Cooper said. "Everyone worked really hard, which is good to see. The huge crowd definitely added a lot. It was nice to get the sure spot in the tournament and not have to depend on anyone else getting us in."

The six seniors - Cooper, Standish, Kehberger, Becky Mann, Katie Ruddy, and Mara Schanfield - have all been integral to the team's success this season.

"The seniors all had a really important part in the game, and that made me really happy that they could fight so hard," coach Martha Whiting said.

Aside from Standish's goal, the other standout senior performer was Schanfield, the goalkeeper, who continued her intense level of play. Although she only made four saves, most of them were difficult point blank shots, which Schanfield played perfectly.

"There is a point during your senior year when it dawns on you that this is the end of the line," Whiting said. "Basically you and your team are in control of how far you want to take it, or how quickly you're going to let it stop. I know the seniors were playing for their lives out there, and it showed."

The emotion-filled victory moved Tufts to 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the NESCAC, behind only Bates (5-2) and Williams (7-0).

"We knew we had to come out and win today to secure a position in the playoffs," Kehrberger said. "We didn't want to go into next week with a big question mark hanging over our heads."

With one game to play, Tufts could still finish as high as second in the conference and possibly host the playoffs, which begin on Oct. 21. The process for determining who hosts the first round of the playoffs is slightly arbitrary as it takes location, number of available playing fields, and team records into consideration. Since Williams will receive a first round bye, Tufts has a legitimate shot of hosting the first round of games.

For the seniors, the post-season is familiar territory, as two of the past three years have yielded a New England champion team. The team appears to be peaking both emotionally and physically heading into the final week of the season, so another playoff run seems imminent.

"The seniors are actually the only people on the team who have been to the NCAA's twice, so two out of their three years have been phenomenal," Whiting said. "We're trying to make it three out of four years for them. I know they're excited."