Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Women's Soccer: Unbeaten streak, season end with missed chances

Sometimes in sports, the team that controls the game doesn't always come out on top.

Unfortunately for the women's soccer team, that time was yesterday. The favored Jumbos were ousted in the first round the NESCAC playoff tournament for the second straight year, this time at the hands of the sixth seeded Williams College Ephs, 1-0, at Kraft Field yesterday afternoon.

The Jumbos finish the season 7-4-3 overall, with a 5-2-3 conference mark. The loss ends the careers of Tufts' seven seniors, co-captains Becky Greenstein and Sarah Gelb, and classmates Alina Schmidt, Meg McCourt, Catherine Benedict, Jen Baldwin and Jess Gluck.

"They have to hang their heads high," coach Martha Whiting said. "Every single one of them stepped up today and played extremely well. We felt we were the better team and we controlled more of the game, and it's hard because we didn't come out on top."

"We came out confident today and knew what we wanted to do," Gelb said. "This is an amazing team and today it just didn't go our way, but everyone played their hearts out, and that's all we can ask."

The Jumbos came out flying at the start of the game, perhaps with a bit too much energy. Williams was able to control the ball in the Jumbos zone early, but was unable to get any solid shots on the Tufts goal.

The Ephs early pressure paid off in the eighth minute of the contest. A Williams shot from the left flank was batted away by a leaping McCourt in goal and recovered by Williams sophomore Alix Oliver. Oliver controlled the ball and sent it into the middle of the field to senior leading scorer Lindsay Dwyer. Dwyer punched a virtually perfect shot into the corner of the net to put the Ephs on the board first.

"They came out much stronger than we did," Greenstein said. "We counteracted them, but sometimes the better team just doesn't win. That's soccer."

To its credit, Tufts settled down after the goal and started playing its brand of soccer. The Jumbos kept the ball on the offensive side of the field for the rest of the half, only allowing the Ephs three more shots over the next 40 minutes. The Jumbos notched 13 shots in that time frame, but were unable to capitalize on any of their opportunities.

One of the best chances came with five minutes remaining in the first half, when junior Sarah Callaghan sent a high ball over the Williams defense to a wide-open sophomore Kim Harrington. As Harrington tried to gain control, the ball ricocheted off her forearm and possession was awarded back to Williams. The two teams played out the half and went into intermission with Williams still holding a 1-0 edge.

At halftime, the Jumbos knew they were playing well but needed to start capitalizing on their opportunities. Those opportunities kept coming in the second, with perhaps the best one of the game coming off the foot of Callaghan 17 minutes into the second. The junior fought for possession off a failed Williams clearance and sent a laser from 25 yards out that ricocheted off leaping sophomore goalie Sarah Ginsburg and then off the top crossbar before being cleared by the Eph defense.

The Jumbos were awarded six corner kicks in the second frame, but Williams, playing a defensive-minded game in the second half, was able to thwart all of Tufts' opportunities. The Jumbos had several final chances: with six minutes to play a Greenstein free kick sailed over the goal, and then with 1:30 remaining Ginsburg fell on a loose ball in the box just before Baldwin closed in. As time expired, the Ephs celebrated while the Jumbos, in a complete state of disbelief, saw their season come to an end.

"As a team, we knew what we needed to do to get this done," Greenstein said. "We had many more opportunities throughout the game, but soccer is part luck and we just didn't have that today."

"Soccer sometimes is an unfair game," junior Ariel Samuelson added. "Sometimes you just don't win no matter how hard you play. I guess today just wasn't our day."

The Jumbos certainly came into the game with momentum, having beaten the Connecticut College Camels 2-0 on Saturday afternoon in the team's final regular season game. Junior Ariel Samuelson led the Jumbo charge, scoring both of the team's goals to finish the year as Tufts' leading scorer with four goals. McCourt earned her fourth shutout of the season with the win.

With the win over Tufts, Williams moves on to the NESCAC semifinals where they will face Bowdoin next weekend, while Tufts' season ends and the Jumbo underclassmen can only look to next year.