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

Women's soccer uses early momentum to put away Cardinals

The women's soccer team scored three goals in the first 15 minutes en route to a 4-2 win over the visiting Wesleyan Cardinals yesterday. The Jumbos, ranked 20th in the nation and third in New England in Monday's NSCAA poll, improve to 8-2 overall, and 5-1 in the NESCAC, where they now hold a full game lead over Williams and Amherst (4-2).

Junior forward Jess Trombly scored two of the goals, netting the first just 59 seconds into the match. The Jumbos took the opening kickoff straight down the field, and Trombly sent a feed from sophomore Jen Baldwin past Cardinal keeper Kelly McFarling to give Tufts the early lead.

Baldwin made it 2-0 just over four minutes later, hooking a left-footed cross from the corner into the frame. The score gives Baldwin a team leading 12 points on five goals and two assists, while Trombly is second with five goals and one assist.

"She's definitely a key part of the offense," coach Martha Whiting said of Baldwin. "She can score goals and she can set people up. She's a good player, and she makes the players around her better."

Tufts continued to dominate, and extended its lead to 3-0 in the 15th minute, with Trombly tallying her fourth goal in two games after a scramble in front of the net. Baldwin took the first shot, and when McFarling could not hold on to the ball, Trombly was there to finish it off.

"We started off really well in the first half _ the first 20 minutes we were doing great," senior co-captain Alle Sharlip said. "We were doing everything that we have been working on in practices the past couple weeks."

But Tufts finally slowed down after the third goal, suffering from what the team hopes will not become a trend of letting down after taking an early lead.

"I think we got into our tendency of getting comfortable," senior co-captain Cara Glassanos said. "We had a 3-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, and we just thought that the game was over. We didn't play well."

"We sort of let down a little bit and got relaxed, and maybe a little cocky," Sharlip added.

Despite the drop in intensity, Tufts was able to keep the Cardinals off the board through the end of the first half. The Jumbos picked it back up in the second period, when they extended their lead to 4-0 in the 66th minute, as freshman Lydia Claudio netted the first score of her collegiate career.

Trombly was in the mix again, firing a shot that bounced off backup goalkeeper Christina Farrell. Claudio was there to put away the rebound, adding what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance.

With the comfort of a four-goal lead, Tufts' intensity level plummeted, giving Wesleyan the chance to claw its way back into the game. The Cardinals capitalized, scoring two goals in a three minute span and causing Whiting to scramble to get her starters back on the field.

"They started to pick it up, and I have to give them credit, because they really did play hard," Whiting said. "They're streaky, and if they had any consistency, they'd probably be pretty good. They started to beat us to the ball, and they really use their bodies well. We got pushed around a little bit."

The first of Wesleyan's goals came with 14:10 to play. Junior midfielder Leila Bozorg took a cross in the box from the right side and hammered a strong shot past Jumbo keeper Meg McCourt for the first goal of her career.

The second goal came two and a half minutes later, after McCourt initially stopped a shot on a Cardinal breakaway, but could not hold onto it. The deflection rolled off to the side, where Wesleyan's top scorer, freshman forward Natalie Cohen, was there to put it away.

Tufts rebounded after the second goal, picking its intensity back up and keeping Wesleyan from getting any closer, sealing the 4-2 win.

The Jumbos out-shot Wesleyan 24-9 on the day and, on an even more positive note, have scored nine goals in their last two games after netting just three in their first four.

"I knew it was there all along, and it finally started to click for us," Whiting said. "We're really starting to play smart and get used to each other, anticipating what the other one is going to do. Everything is just starting to click offensively."

"I think what we've done these past two games is to play simple," Glassanos added. "We're playing to feet, we're pulling it back and not forcing it. We're not trying to dribble through five people, we're just playing the easy ball and the goals are just coming."



The Jumbos now must focus all their attention on Saturday's opponent, the 8-3 Williams Ephs. The always-tough Ephs will be looking to get back on track after a 2-1 loss to Middlebury last weekend.

"We're just going to have to play our best," Whiting said. "They're very speedy, they have a great passing game. We're very similar, and I think it's going to come down to whoever wants it more that day. We have to come ready for a fight, because that's what it's going to be."

"If we play to our potential, we can beat anybody, and certainly we can beat Williams," Sharlip said. "If we played like we did the first 20 minutes of this game, we'll beat Williams, but we have to come out and play like that."