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

Women's Soccer | Jumbos will defend top ranking and seven-game win streak this weekend

The Women's soccer team will bring impressive numbers to Kraft Field on Saturday: a seven-game win streak, No. 1 in New England, No. 7 nationally and zero home losses.

In one of their biggest games of the season to date, the Jumbos will face off against the Bowdoin Polar Bears at 2:30 p.m.

Currently tied atop the NESCAC standings with Williams at 7-1 overall (3-1 NESCAC), Tufts is a mere half-game ahead of the Polar Bears (3-2 NESCAC).

While Tufts has knocked off the Bears in three of the past four seasons, but every game has been tightly contested, with neither team winning by more than one goal.

"We have to beat Bowdoin," senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan said. "They're always a tough team, and every game we've played against them has been very close, and I don't expect tomorrow to be any different."

While the Jumbos boast a red-hot winning streak and a top national ranking, the Bears are no strangers to ousting nationally-ranked opponents. Just two weeks ago, Bowdoin hosted Williams, then ranked ninth, and demolished the Ephs 3-0 to knock them out of the top 25.

Tufts, coming off a Wednesday 2-0 victory over Brandeis, will be up for the challenge. The Jumbos are going up against a Polar Bear defense that has recorded four shutouts this season and has allowed just nine goals in nine games. The anchor of that defense is senior tri-captain goalie Anna Shapell, who has accumulated a .875 save percentage and averaged only 0.96 goals allowed per game so far this season.

The Jumbo offense will be led, as usual, by senior tri-captains Ariel Samuelson and Sarah Callaghan, who lead the NESCAC in goals scored (seven) and assists (six), respectively. After struggling offensively on Wednesday, scoring only one goal until the closing seconds, the squad knows it will have to be sharper to overcome the Polar Bears.

"We really just have to put away our chances," Callaghan said. "We created lots of opportunities against Brandeis, but didn't put enough of them in. We're not going to have so many chances against Bowdoin, so we have to take advantage of the ones we get and finish."

The Jumbos will need another big game in the middle from center midfielder sophomore Martha Furtek, who has been omnipresent on the field all season long.

"She has been amazing since she got here last year," senior tri-captain Lindsay Garmirian said. "She never stops running; she's like two people."

The squad will look to continue its strong defensive play and shut down Bowdoin leading scorers Ann Zeigler (five goals, three assists) and Ivy Blackmore (three goals, one assist). While Bowdoin does not have the offensive prowess of Bates, which Tufts defeated last weekend, its potential firepower is a concern.The team knows it will need to come out fired up and ready to play Saturday in order to come away with the all-important W.

"I think that in the past few games, our fundamentals have been really good, but we've just haven't come out with the intensity we had at the beginning of the season," sophomore Joelle Emery said. "I think that the most important thing for us on Saturday is to come out hungry and fired up."

Emery, junior Jen Fratto, and sophomores Annie Benedict and Jess Wagner have been crucial to the Jumbos' seven-game winning streak, but the play of junior keeper Annie Ross has allowed them to play more aggressively and keep the pressure on opposing defenses.

Ross plays way out of the box when the Jumbos are on offense, cutting off any potential breakaways by the opposing team.

"Annie's been having a great season, which is great since it's been her first opportunity to prove herself to everyone," Emery said. "Having confidence in your keeper is so important. It not only allows us to play tough, aggressive defense because we know she'll be there if they get a shot off, but also it allows us to push up and play offense, which is huge."

A win for the Jumbos would push them to 4-1 in the conference and extend their winning streak to eight straight games, tying the 1979 school record.