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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Women's Soccer | Mid-season turnaround makes for successful run

The season came to a disappointingly early end for the Tufts women's soccer team last Saturday in the first round of the NESCAC playoffs. The Jumbos, seeded third, were upset by sixth-seeded Williams, 1-0.

So the sun sets on a very up-and-down season. The Jumbos finished 7-4-3 overall, including a very solid 5-1-3 record in the NESCAC. Things did not look good at the start of the season, however, as the team got off to a 0-2-2 start.

"It was frustrating [in the beginning] because in practices it was obvious we had an awesome team, but we just couldn't put it together to win," freshman defender Joelle Emery said.

The Jumbos, however, turned it around with a vengeance. The team was unbeaten in eight of its last nine regular season games, rattling off four consecutive league wins at one point.

"I think the turnaround can be attributed to the girls' drive to be the best they could be," coach Martha Whiting said. "It gave us a boost and we were able to come back and finish third in the

conference."

As the season progressed, the members of the team gelled and played more as a cohesive unit.

"We made some adjustments and started playing with more intensity, chemistry and heart," senior captain Sarah Gelb said.

Senior goalkeeper Meg McCourt agreed that chemistry played a major role.

"This team was 21 girls deep and there were no factions," she said. "This was a group of girls that really loved each other."

With the team playing well together, everyone contributed. Nine girls found the net this year, led by junior Ariel Samuelson's four goals. Her eight points tied her for the team lead with junior Sarah Callaghan and freshman Martha Furtek.

Furtek was one of four freshmen on the team to make a significant impact. To go along with Furtek's offensive production, freshman forward Lauren Fedore scored two goals, Emery started 12 of the 14 games in the back, and midfielder Anne Benedict added an assist despite playing limited minutes.

"The freshmen really stepped up and played consistently all year," Whiting said. "They had a very impressive maturity level and didn't even play like they were freshman at all."

It was, however, the seven seniors that made up the core of this Tufts team.

"They were the heart and soul of the team," Whting said. "They were great players who had great attitudes that really led this team."

They drove the team and provided guidance for the younger players as well.

"Every one of them was a leader and an inspiration," Emery said. "When we weren't working hard in a practice, I felt like they were the ones who were pushing us. They were definitely the backbone of the team and everyone will miss them incredibly next year."

With the season is over, the players have had a chance to look back and reflect on the experience.

"My teammates played with an amazing amount of talent, passion and determination," Gelb said. "They have provided me with an endless amount of support, motivation and laughter. This team has made my four years at Tufts unforgettable."

McCourt feels the same way.

"I feel so lucky and privileged to have been able to spend so much time with such a wonderful group of girls playing for a coach that genuinely cares about every one of us," she said.

Less than a week removed from the season, the players are already missing it.

"The past few days at normal practice time, I've missed going to practice and missed being with all the girls," Emery said.

For seniors, however, the ending to this Tufts season puts a bow on their college careers.

"I'm going to miss walking onto Kraft Field on a game day when the weather is perfect: sunny, no wind and hearing parents cheer," McCourt said. "I'm going to miss stretching to the song "Standing Outside the Fire" and leaving the field after a wet practice, caked in mud with grass stuck in every crevice, feeling dead tired."

Though it appeared that the season could be a long one, the Jumbos fought back and showed why they are so proud to play Tufts soccer.

Whiting, while still thinking about this season, is very excited about next year as well.

"Ten months is much too long to wait," she said. "Next year has the potential to be a great year. We will, once again, have a strong team."

This is the one consoling factor for McCourt and the other departing seniors.

"We know that we are leaving the program in really good hands," she said. "It might be the only thing that makes leaving this team a little easier."


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