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

Women's Soccer | Tufts kicks Amherst for third straight triumph

When the regional and national rankings are released later this week, the Women's soccer team will not have to look very far for its name. The squad once again affirmed its place atop the regional standings on Saturday, handily defeating New England's third ranked team - the Amherst Lord Jeffs - 3-1 on Kraft Field.

The win, the team's third straight after an opening day loss to Colby, put the Jumbos at 3-1 overall on the season. Coupled with Williams' Saturday loss to Bowdoin, the win pushed the Jumbos into a six-way logjam atop the NESCAC standings at 2-1 in league play.

"We have a ton of confidence right now," senior Lydia Claudio said. "We just beat the top three teams in New England, and while we feel great about that, we certainly can't rest. We have to take it one game at a time. We have ten more and we need to win each one."

Despite coming out strong to open the contest, the Jumbos found themselves on the short end of a 1-0 score early on. In the 12th minute of action, Amherst junior Lesley Pruzansky beat Tufts' charging junior keeper Annie Ross and sent the ball to freshman Stephanie Yesnick at the far post. Ross was unable to recover, and Yesnik dribbled the ball into the open net to give the Jeffs the 1-0 lead.

Tufts stayed aggressive, pushing the midfielders up to the offensive side of the pitch. The move paid off just five minutes later, in what unfolded into one of the more acrobatic goals in recent years.

Senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan drove the ball down the sideline and sent a centering cross just outside the 18- yard line. Sophomore Lauren Fedore, unable to play the ball to her feet, used her head instead. Fedore, who had spent the last three games on the sideline nursing a severe concussion, laid out over her defender and headed the ball from just inside the 18, over Amherst junior goalie Piper Crowell's head and into the back of the net to knot the score at 1-1.

"Callaghan gave me the perfect cross, and there was no way I was going to be able to get to the ball so I had to jump over my defender and somehow it went in," Fedore said. "I love to head the ball - it's definitely my favorite thing to do."

The teams fought evenly for the rest of the half; each squad had a handful of opportunities to score but neither was able to capitalize, keeping the score at one apiece until the halftime buzzer.

Tufts came out flat at the start of the second, but its back four held tight and kept the Jeffs from taking advantage. Fifteen minutes into the half, the Jumbos turned up the pressure and were able to keep the ball in Amherst's zone for the majority of the rest of the game.

Tufts' hard work paid off with 21 minutes remaining, as senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson sent a pass from 40 yards out to sophomore Martha Furtek. Furtek collected the ball and sent a low liner inside the right post to put Tufts up 2-1.

Just two minutes later, Tufts got another opportunity to extend its lead, as Samuelson, who wreaked havoc on the Amherst back line all day, took a through ball and sprinted past the Jeffs' defense. On her way to her team-leading fourth goal of the season, Samuelson was fouled in the box and the Jumbos were awarded a penalty kick.

Callaghan capitalized on the opportunity, knocking the ball into the top left corner of the net. The goal was disallowed, however, due to an inadvertent whistle, and Callaghan was forced to shoot again. With Crowell guessing right, the tri-captain drilled the ball into that same top left corner, achieving the same result and giving Tufts a 3-1 lead.

"At halftime, we said we were going to come out and score two more goals, and we came out in the second half and really worked hard to get it done," Furtek said.

The Jumbos were able to be much more aggressive on Saturday than in previous games due to their strong back four. Junior Jen Fratto and sophomores Joelle Emery, Anne Benedict and Jess Wagner are finally intact as a unit and holding strong in the backfield. With Fratto leading the effort, the defense's strong play on Saturday will allow Coach Martha Whiting to push up her midfielders and pressure opposing defenses in future games.

"Fratto communicates really well with the rest of the back four, telling us when to step up or drop," Wagner said.

"It's a huge reassurance to have such a strong defense back there," Furtek said. "We still have to transition, but it certainly creates many more opportunities up front."

Ross put forth another solid effort in goal, rendering another of the NESCAC's high-powered attacks all but silent. Despite only making one save in the game, Ross surrendered just a single goal, and her relentless aggression was successful in disrupting the Amherst offense.

"[Ross] played awesome today," Wagner said. "She's completely fearless and will go after anything."