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

Women's Soccer | Williams escapes Kraft with 2-2 tie

The women's soccer team came into Saturday's Parents Weekend contest in the midst of a five game unbeaten streak in the NESCAC. The squad did not disappoint the numerous fans in the stands, extending the streak to six straight games by fighting to a 2-2 double overtime tie with the Williams College Ephs at Kraft Field.

"We had moments when we played our best soccer today, but there were also times when we were just standing there watching them," said senior co-captain Sarah Gelb, who was in the lineup after missing two games with an ankle sprain. "We played really well in the first half but unfortunately we came out flat in the second and they took advantage."

The tie pushed the Jumbos' record to 6-3-3 overall, including a 4-1-3 record in NESCAC play. It kept the squad in third place in the conference, just one game back of Amherst and one and a half behind Middlebury with one to play.

A win over Connecticuit College next Saturday, coupled with an Amherst loss to Williams, would put Tufts in position to overtake the Amherst Jeffs as the second seed in the conference when the playoffs begin next Sunday. The Jumbos also secured a top four seed in the NESCAC tournament, meaning they will host a first round playoff game on Sunday.

"We really focused on not getting beaten at Kraft [Field]," Gelb said. "We're still undefeated at home, and we're in fine shape in the NESCAC heading into the playoffs."

Tufts, clearly energized by the home crowd, came out firing to start the game. The Jumbos gave the fans something to cheer about early when in just the third minute of play, freshman center midfielder Martha Furtek bent a corner kick over Ephs sophomore goalkeeper Abby Taylor to put Tufts up 1-0. The goal was Furtek's third of the season, tying her for the team lead in goals (three) and points (eight) with junior Sarah Callaghan.

Williams seemed to be demoralized by the goal and suffered a loss in intensity for the next ten minutes, a problem the Jumbos themselves faced earlier in the season. Tufts capitalized on Williams' lethargy, giving itself a two-goal cushion just eight minutes later. With 10:12 elapsed in the first frame, senior co-captain Becky Greenstein lofted a free kick through the Williams defense and found the head of junior Ariel Samuelson. Samuelson did not disappoint, heading the ball to the near post past Taylor for her second goal of the season.

"I think we surprised ourselves by scoring those two goals really quickly," Callaghan said. "We went out really hard, and then it was like we had used up all our adrenaline and just couldn't keep that up for the rest of the game."

The Jumbos continued to fight hard through the half, earning numerous chances deep in the Williams zone. Tufts, however, was unable to complete any of those opportunities and went into halftime sporting a 2-0 lead.

At halftime, coach Martha Whiting stressed the importance of not letting up the intensity, keeping sharp for the entire 90 minutes, and playing like the game was tied at zero.

"She told us to keep up the intensity and not let them gain any momentum by scoring any goals," Gelb said.

"We wanted to transition better from defense to offense," Callaghan said, "and step it up and put a few more goals in."

The midgame break didn't seem to work in the Jumbos favor, however, as Williams' senior forward and leading scorer Lindsay Dwyer added to her already impressive season just 49 seconds into the half, tallying her seventh goal of the 2004 campaign on an assist from sophomore defender Jessica Hing.

The Jumbos settled down after Williams got within one, playing essentially even soccer with the Ephs, though still not looking as sharp as they did in the first frame. The Ephs, like any good team does, took advantage of the slip in intensity on the part of Tufts and evened the score at two 19 minutes later. Sophomore midfielder Alix Oliver sent a through ball in the air that senior Brittany Esty, the team's second leading scorer with five goals and one assist, headed into the goal just out of the reach of Tufts' senior keeper Meg McCourt.

Both squads seemed to settle down after the goal, with each getting a few offensive chances but mainly staying back on defense to prevent any late scores. The teams fought through two overtimes, with both McCourt and Taylor holding their own in their respective nets to keep things even until the final buzzer.

The Jumbos outshot Williams 26 to 18 on the afternoon, with the Ephs having a slight edge in corner kicks, eight to seven.

The Jumbos will face off against Conn. College next Saturday in their final game of the regular season. Having no midweek contest this week will allow the squad to fully heal any injuries for the game and the ensuing playoff push. The Jumbos will look to stay positive this week in practice and mainly work on keeping the intensity level high for 90 straight minutes.

"We're really going to focus on playing together as a team and playing to our full potential," Gelb said, "because if we do that for all 90 minutes, we will win."