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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Women's Soccer | One hundred ten minutes yield no winner: Jumbos fight to scoreless tie

While the Jumbo record ten-game win streak came to an end on Saturday afternoon, the team still walked off Williams' Cole Field with an 11-game undefeated streak intact.

The match, which pitted the No. 6 Jumbos against the No. 24 Ephs, lived up to expectation. The two teams battled incessantly, fighting to a 0-0 tie on a cold and rainy afternoon in Williamstown, Mass.

"It was really frustrating," sophomore Martha Furtek said. "We came out flat again and were diving into tackles, which allowed them to switch the field a lot. But we gained our composure and started being more patient on defense, which helped generate offensive opportunities, too."

The tie puts the Jumbos at 10-1-1 overall (5-1-1, NESCAC), a half game ahead of the lurking Ephs (5-2-1) in conference play. Heading into the last week of action, the Jumbos now control their own destiny. If they defeat Wesleyan and Conn. College this week, they'll receive a first round bye in the NESCAC tournament and host the semifinals and finals as the No. 1 seed.

The Ephs came out flying on their home field, pressing the Jumbo defense, which has been remarkable all season. After losing its last two games, Williams was hungry to strike first against Tufts. The Jumbo back four and junior keeper Annie Ross continued their strong play, however, quelling three early Williams corner kicks and transitioning the ball to the offensive end.

"After a three-and-a-half hour drive, it's hard to come out flying," sophomore defender Joelle Emery said. "They were out to beat us; they've lost their last two games and didn't want to lose another on their home field."

The Ephs had a golden opportunity 20 minutes into the contest, when sophomore leading scorer Ana Sani kicked a bullet at Ross from the top of the 18. Ross blocked the shot but was unable to gain possession, and the ball made its way directly to freshman Gabby Woodson. Woodson ripped a shot at the post, but Ross laid out to her right, snaring the ball three feet in the air to keep the game scoreless.

"It was ridiculous," Emery said. "She was on the ground, and sprung up and fully extended herself in the air to catch the ball. It was one of best saves I've ever seen."

Tufts had a point blank opportunity of its own just two minutes later, when sophomore Lauren Fedore curled a 20-yard bullet at the left post, but Williams junior keeper Sarah Ginsburg dove to her right, barely able to tip it out of bounds.

The Jumbos had another chance late in the half, when miscommunication in the Williams defense left three Tufts forwards facing a single Eph defender deep in the zone. Furtek beat the defender cleanly, but her shot sailed just over the crossbar and the score remained 0-0.

"I don't know what to say other than we just didn't have luck on our side," Furtek said.

Both teams came out in the second half and applied the same pressure. Both had ample offensive opportunities, but strong defensive play on both sides of the field, reinforced by remarkable goalkeeping by Ginsburg and Ross, kept the match scoreless.

The two overtime sessions were defensive showcases, as Tufts' back four was able to limit on-target shots from Sani, sophomore Jessie Freeman and Woodson. Ross finished the game with a season-high 11 saves while Ginsburg tallied eight. Ross's zero goals allowed moved her atop the conference with 0.75 GAA.

Williams, to its credit, was able to shut down Tufts' senior tri-captain and NESCAC scoring leader Ariel Samuelson all afternoon. Led early on by the presence of senior co-captain Elise Henson, the Eph back four was able to neutralize Samuelson. It marked the first time in six games that Samuelson failed to find the net, and just the third time all season she failed to record a point in a Jumbo match.

While Henson suffered an ankle injury in the second half, the back four still kept Samuelson and the rest of the Jumbos off the board, largely due to the absence of senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan, who is out indefinitely with an LCL injury. Callaghan's ability to create shots for her teammates would have been invaluable against the Ephs.

"Sarah brings so much to the team," Furtek said. "She creates so many opportunities up front and wins so many balls because of her speed. We definitely miss her a lot, but we've had so many injuries this season that we know that we just have to pick it up and keep trying to get it done."

The Jumbos have a huge NESCAC week ahead of them, starting on Wednesday against Wesleyan. The Cardinals are winless in the NESCAC at 0-5-2, but have impressive ties at home against Middlebury and Colby in recent weeks. On Saturday, the Jumbos face the Conn. College Camels, who currently sit tied for eighth place in the conference at 1-6, with their one win coming against the struggling Cardinals.

If Tufts defeats both squads, it will be off next Sunday with a bye in the first round of the tournament and will host the semifinals and finals the following week.

"It's always nice to know that we control what happens to us," Callaghan said. "We just have to stay focused on these last two games and not start looking ahead."