Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, April 20, 2024

Women's Soccer | Now sixth in the nation, Tufts ready to do battle against Trinity on a turf field

The women's soccer team has a program record-tying eight straight victories and doesn't look ready to stop quite yet.

With their Homecoming game on Saturday against Trinity on the Bello Field turf at 1:30, the Jumbos will be vying for a school record ninth consecutive win.

Is the team feeling the pressure?

"Honestly, we really aren't thinking about it," coach Martha Whiting said. "We know that it's there, but we know it won't do any good to dwell on it. We've been really good at taking it one game at a time."

Senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan agreed.

"We want to play well every game no matter what, so if there is pressure, we put it on ourselves," she said. "Even if we had lost the last eight games, I would want to win the next one."

Heavy rain postponed Tuesday's match against Wesleyan. Instead of playing, the team had an intense practice in the driving rain to try to match the game experience.

"The girls were excited to play on Tuesday, so it was disappointing when we didn't play," Whiting said. "We went really hard at practice to use that energy and excitement we had from expecting to play a game."

The postponement may have been a blessing in disguise, because had the team played on Tuesday, it would have been without Callaghan. The break gave the forward a few more days to heal her sprained knee, though her availability for Saturday is still up in the air.

The extra practice time allowed the Jumbos to work on areas that needed improvement.

"We spent a lot of time working on transitioning this past week," sophomore Martha Furtek said. "Hustling back to defend or attacking quickly on offense is something that we have struggled with throughout the season, but we are improving and working more as a unit."

Furtek mentioned the importance of adapting to playing on turf.

"First touch on the turf, especially if it's raining, is crucial," she said. "We proved last Saturday that we can play on turf and I don't think we should have any problem doing the same against Trinity."

The Bantams are coming into Tufts looking for any sign of life. At 1-4 in the NESCAC, they are doing all they can to stay out of last place in the conference. The slippery weather, however, may be a small equalizer.

"I think the weather will have an effect to a small degree," Whiting said. "But it is a good thing that we are playing on turf, because the weather would have a much larger impact if we were playing on Kraft. Our main strengths are team speed and our ability to possess the ball, and playing on wet grass would greatly diminish our advantage."

This week, the Jumbos moved up one spot in the national rankings to sixth, while remaining No. 1 in New England. While the team tries to focus on the field, the recognition is difficult to ignore.

"It's exciting to be recognized, but I've been trying my hardest not to pay attention to the rankings," Furtek said. "It's easy to start thinking about postseason possibilities, but, like [coach] reminded us yesterday, we haven't officially made it into the tournament yet."

Tufts will have plenty of other reasons to get excited Saturday. With both Parents Weekend and Homecoming, there will be a large crowd of parents and alumni watching the game.

"Playing in front of a home crowd has really picked us up this season and we're really excited to see all of the girls who have graduated," Furtek said. "Our goal has been to play consistently for 90 minutes, and the homecoming crowd hopefully will motivate us to do that."

Callaghan agreed. "The festivities just add to the atmosphere of the game," she said. "It is always fun to play in front of old teammates. Also, parents will be coming out to watch, which is nice for people who live farther away."

The defense has given up one goal in its last four games, thanks to the back four and goalkeeper Annie Ross. By posting two shutouts last week, Ross became the second Tufts player this season to be named NESCAC Player of the Week.

"The defense has really come together," Whiting said. "They are four great players and when they play as one, they become even better. Annie has also taken a leadership role and communicates really well, so she and the back four compliment each other really well."

The team wants to perform up to standards of their few games. If it does, all signs point to yet another Tufts victory.