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

Women's soccer to butt heads with Conn. College Camels today

The women's soccer team, which is coming off a 3-1 win over the Middlebury Panthers on Saturday, will look to extend its winning streak at home this afternoon at 4 p.m. against the Connecticut College Camels. The Jumbos (2-1, 2-0 NESCAC) beat the Camels (2-1, 1-1 NESCAC) by a 1-0 score in their only meeting last year.

Tufts has picked up considerable momentum after dropping the season opener to Babson, 4-1. The team responded to the loss with two straight conference wins, including Saturday's comeback over Middlebury. That win was especially important for the Jumbos because the Panthers were the only NESCAC opponents they did not beat last year.

"Saturday was a great confidence builder for our team. It was really a pivotal game," coach Martha Whiting said. "We've got some momentum. [The players] are feeling confident as a group, and are starting to believe in each other and trust each other and the decisions they make on the field. Something just clicked for us, and I think it'll carry over."

In addition to momentum, the win enabled the team to establish a new identity and separate itself from last season's NCAA runner-up squad.

"Now we can dismiss last year's team. We don't have to look back anymore," assistant coach Andrea Licari said. "This team is unique and just as great. This team beat Middlebury and can do so much. They are capable of everything last year's team accomplished and more, and now they can see that."

The Jumbos may be on a hot streak, but it is still important to improve both mentally and physically, the coaches say.

"We have to not settle for how we played [Saturday]," Licari said. "We still have a lot to work on, and we have to push ourselves more and expect more. The only way to succeed is to keep your goals up."

Conn. College finished just 6-8 last season, and its 2-7 record in the NESCAC failed to qualify the team for the conference tournament. But Whiting insists that the Camels are not a team to be taken lightly.

"There's a fine line between every team. Conn. has always played us tough," she said. "We didn't beat them for the first three or four years I was here, and since then it's been back and forth. They're not a team we consistently beat. Last year was a tough game, but I like that we're playing at home. It really works in our favor."

The Jumbos have lost just one contest on their home field - the NCAA Championship match against the College of New Jersey - in 13 games since the start of the 2000 season.

The Camels will be led by a trio of senior captains: forward Lena Eckhoff, who has scored two goals this season, midfielder Sara Molina, and goalkeeper Laura Knisely, who has a 1.58 goals against average.

With her two-goal performance in Saturday's win, Tufts midfielder Alle Sharlip earned NESCAC Player of the Week and Tufts Athlete of the Week honors. She is the team's leading scorer with four points, and is followed by sophomore Becca Doigan, who has three.

Doigan, however, is questionable for today's game after suffering a lower-leg injury against Middlebury. Senior co-captain Katie Ruddy will also miss her second consecutive match because of a hip injury. However, she is expected back for this weekend's game at Colby.

Today's contest is the third of four consecutive conference games for the Jumbos in an 11-day span.