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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

Women's Soccer | Jumbos kicked around by Mules

Early season jitters got the best of the Women's soccer team Saturday afternoon as the team fell 2-0 to the White Mules of Colby in the opening game of the 2005 season. The loss continued Tufts' poor showing streak against the Mules in recent seasons, with the Jumbos tallying just one victory over Colby in the past five years.

"As individuals, no one played badly," senior co-captain Sarah Callaghan said. "Everyone played hard, but as a team, we didn't click together on anything. The whole team needs to play defense and the whole team needs to play offense."

Colby junior forward Laura Williamson put the Mules on the board early, heading a pass from senior co-captain Katie McCabe past Tufts junior keeper Annie Ross. Colby tacked on an insurance goal late in the second half when open junior Liz Morbeck took a cross from Williamson and sent the ball past Ross to make it 2-0.

Tufts, in similar fashion to previous seasons, was able to keep good pressure on the opposing defense, but was unable to finish its shots and put the ball past the keeper. The Jumbos out-shot the Mules 14 to 11, and had six corner kicks to Colby's three, yet were still unable to sneak anything past junior keeper Liza Benson. Benson ended up with 11 saves in the shutout, while Ross tallied six in the loss.

Injuries should not serve as an excuse, but they didn't exactly help the Jumbos, whose seven new players were forced to take an increased role in what, for many of them, was their first collegiate soccer game. Junior center fullback Jen Fratto, the anchor of the back four, was sidelined with stress fractures in her back. Senior center midfielder Lydia Claudio, who has been plagued by injuries for the past three seasons, sprained her ankle in practice on Friday and was unable to compete. During the game, sophomore forward Lauren Fedore banged heads with a Colby player, suffering a severe grade three concussion that forced her to the bench.

Because of these injuries, all 19 members of Coach Martha Whiting's squad saw action on Saturday. Freshman Maya Shoham got the start in the center midfield in place of Claudio, while sophomore Jessie Wagner, playing in her first game as a Jumbo since transferring from Bates, opened the game at fullback, along with classmates Anne Benedict and Joelle Emery and senior Cate Meeker.

The silver lining to the loss came from the fact that the squad has only been practicing together for a week.

"The new players did well, and I'm sure some of them played more than they had imagined in their first game," Callaghan said. "It was our first game and it was frustrating, but since it was our first game, we have time to figure out things to work on."

The Jumbos will continue to focus on getting used to each other as teammates as the players learn each other's styles and preferences on the field. With such a large group of newcomers, that certainly will pose a challenge.

"We need to find some kind of spark to get us going," Callaghan said. "Maybe go really hard at each other in practice, just to get us fired up and working together as one unit."

Tufts doesn't have much time, however, as the squad gears up to face regional powerhouse Wheaton College in non-conference action on Wednesday, followed by NESCAC foes Middlebury and Amherst on consecutive Saturdays. All three games, however, are at home, where the Jumbos will hope to have the luck of Kraft Field on their side.

Tufts has only played Wheaton, who is ranked third in the country, twice in the past four years, with mixed results. The Jumbos fell 2-0 to the Lyons early last season and defeated them 3-1 in 2000 in the NCAA Regional Final, en route to their National Championship berth.