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

Women's Soccer: Tufts prepares for NESCAC playoffs

The women's soccer team will try to wrap up its regular season on a strong note Saturday at home against Connecticut College. The NESCAC playoffs begin Sunday, so the Jumbos will not have much time to rest before they turnaround and play the first round.

The Camels will be playing for their playoff lives as they go into their final game tied for seventh place with Trinity. The top seven teams from the NESCAC will qualify for the playoffs. Fortunately for Conn; should the two teams end up in a tie, the Camels hold the tiebreaker since they won the head-to-head match up earlier this year.

The Jumbos, who currently sit in third place in the league with a 4-1-3 record, are coming off a 2-2 double overtime tie against Williams last Saturday. Tufts took an early 2-0 lead going into the second half, but the Ephs battled back to force the draw.

"I guess it was disappointing not to win after being up two goals," coach Martha Whiting said. "But there were parts of the game where we played really well. You have to give Williams credit for coming back because it was a game they had to have."

The game is in the past, however, and the team is looking ahead.

"We will approach Saturday as any other game," Whiting said. "We will play our same game, only it's against a different team. We just need to play smart and play hard."

This attitude has led to great success lately. Tufts has not lost since Oct. 5, approaching every game the same way, regardless of the team. The Jumbos go into the weekend playing their best soccer of the year at the right time.

If the playoffs started today, the Jumbos would be facing Bowdoin at home, a team Tufts has already beaten this year. However, depending on what happens this weekend, things could get dicey.

If Tufts beats Conn. College and Amherst loses to Williams, Tufts and Amherst would be tied for second with identical records. Through a series of tiebreakers, it appears that the Jumbos would get the edge over the Lord Jeffs with a 4-1-2 record against the top eight teams in the conference, compared to Amherst's 3-1-3. If this scenario plays and Trinity loses its game, Conn. College would secure the seventh spot even if it loses. Sunday would then be a rematch of Saturday's contest as Tufts would once again host the Camels.

Regardless of what happens Saturday, however, Tufts will be playing a home playoff game Sunday, something that seemed very improbable a month ago. The Jumbos were winless through their first four games and the offense was nearly nonexistent. The turnaround came at the Homecoming game when the team notched its first win of the season. Since that point, Tufts is 6-1-1, its only loss coming in non-league action against Brandeis. Whiting said the feeling of how far this team has come is unbelievable.

"Before the season, the team had an expectation of success," she said. "After the shaky start, it was tough to tell where we were going to end up. We really kept focused and worked hard, though, and it is very exciting to be at home on Sunday."

The players will try to keep the playoffs out of their minds during Saturday's game. Yet while the game is important and will be treated the same way as any other, the team will do all it can to stay healthy and fresh for Sunday.

"The girls won't hold anything back," said Whiting. "But I don't want people getting too worn down for Sunday. Hopefully we can come out hard, get an early lead and have the luxury of resting some players."

The year has been a rollercoaster ride for this Tufts team. Sunday, however, will be a new season, and the Jumbos will try to put it all together to make a strong showing in the NESCAC playoffs. Both players and coaches know that if the team plays its brand of soccer,.it could be playing next weekend for the NESCAC title.