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

Women's Soccer | Fifth-seeded Bates upsets top-seeded Jumbos in fierce double overtime match to win NESCAC

The women's soccer team stood frozen as Bates players and fans rushed the field on Saturday afternoon after stealing the NESCAC Championship away from the Jumbos 2-1 in double overtime.

A defensive miscommunication between junior sweeper Jen Fratto and junior keeper Annie Ross, both of whom were stellar defensively for the Jumbos all afternoon, allowed Bates freshman Jen Marino to sneak in and toe the ball over Ross and into the back of the net with 6:18 left in the second overtime period.

Despite being devastated by the loss, the Jumbos were able to take solace in the fact that their season is, in all likelihood, not quite over.

"I told them that it's fine to be sad, and that I am sad and they should be, but it's not the end of the world," coach Martha Whiting said. "We've had a great season and we played our hearts out today and really battled."

"If we were going to lose a game, this was the one to lose because we're still going to NCAAs," senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson added. "It sucks and it brings us down, but it really doesn't change anything about the rest of our season."

All in all, the two teams went all out in what turned out to be an exciting and hard-fought championship match.

"Going into the game, we really just wanted to leave it all out there and play as hard as we could," sophomore Joelle Emery said. "We knew that if we could do that, we could walk off with our heads high. We left it all out there and played through injuries, and we know our season isn't over."

The Jumbos, who were battling several key injuries at game time, came out flat to start the game, and Bates took advantage. Junior wing Jessie Gargiulo put the visitors up early, taking a pass from sophomore Molly Wagner and floating a shot past freshman defender Genevieve Citrin and over Ross's head into the net in the eighth minute.

"Everyone was nervous specifically because several of our important players were injured," senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson said. "It's scary to go into a game like that, but once we realized we could play with them, we pushed through and started playing really well. They deserved the goal in the beginning - they completely outplayed us for the first 15 minutes."

Tufts was lucky to be only down one early on. Throughout the first 15 minutes, the Bobcats had several point-blank opportunities only to be denied by Ross.

"She was remarkable all day," Samuelson said. "She saved us from them scoring quite a few goals and kept us in the game."

The Bates goal sparked the Jumbos back to life, as Tufts started controlling the ball more soundly and keeping it in the Bobcats' zone. The Jumbo pressure paid off in the 26th minute, when senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson bent a shot from the left corner of the field towards the net. The ball deflected awkwardly off Bates' sophomore defender Allison Emery and skidded past sophomore keeper Nini Spalding to tie things up at 1-1.

For the next 80 minutes, the teams went at each other, playing extremely physically on a muddy Kraft Field for the 2005 NESCAC crown. Both defenses were extremely solid, as Tufts was able to neutralize Gargiulo and leading scorer Kim Alexander, while the Bobcats were able to shut down several attempts by Samuelson, senior Lydia Claudio, and junior Kim Harrington.

Not to be overlooked on the defensive side for the Jumbos was sophomore Jessie Wagner, who, in her first year as a Jumbo, played spectacularly in the back all season. Wagner transferred to Tufts from Bates, so the championship game found her pitted against several of her former teammates and friends.

"In a game like that when there are so many feelings you can go two ways," Samuelson said. "You can get completely psyched out or you can be awesome, and she was awesome."

To make it to Sunday's final-round tilt with the Bobcats, Tufts first had to take on Colby in semifinal action on Saturday. It was the Mules who started Tufts' season off on the wrong foot, defeating the Jumbos 2-0 at Colby on a Sept. 10 opening-day matchup. Tufts got the last laugh, however, knocking the Mules out of the playoffs with a 2-1 victory in front of a rowdy Kraft Field crowd.

Tufts got on the board early on a give-and-go between Harrington and sophomore Lauren Fedore. Harrington controlled the ball 25 yards out, sent a quick pass to Fedore who one-timed it back to Harrington, who took control and sent a perfect shot over Colby keeper Liza Benson's head to put Tufts up 1-0.

The Jumbos got a key insurance goal early in the second half when senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan, battling a serious knee injury which limited her playing time all weekend, controlled the ball inside the Colby eight-yard line and sent a soft pass out to Fratto, who chipped one over Benson's head in what turned out to be the game winning goal.

Colby got some renewed life late in the game when junior scoring leader Laura Williamson ripped a shot from the 18 past a leaping Ross to evade the shutout and put Colby within a goal. Tufts, however, controlled the ball for the final two minutes and sealed their place in the championship the following day.