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

Women's Soccer | Jumbos defeat Conn College, win regular season title

Sometimes the cards just happen to fall the right way.

After holding off the Connecticut College Camels 1-0 in New London on Saturday, the fate of the women's soccer team was still in the air. To seal their claim to the regular-season title, the Jumbos would need some help from other NESCAC teams.

They got it almost immediately after the game ended as word came in that Amherst had defeated Williams in a 1-0 nail-biter, giving Tufts the top seed and homefield advantage heading into the playoffs.

"I heard somebody whisper something to coach and I turned around started yelling 'Amherst beat Williams!'" sophomore Martha Furtek said. "It was a huge relief. I think we all knew that if we did our part and won, things would fall into place for us, and they did."

The squad got on the board early against the Camels on a corner kick from Furtek. Junior center back Jen Fratto, the squad's tallest player, migrated up from the defensive end to give the Jumbos some extra height around the goal. The strategy paid off, as Fratto connected on a header for her first goal of the season to put Tufts up 1-0 just four minutes into the game.

In the 13th minute, senior tri-captain Lindsay Garmirian took a pass and raced past the Camel defense on the left flank, poised to give the Jumbos their second goal in under 15 minutes. Conn College senior goalie Kate Simmons came charging out to make the save as Garmirian slid to try and poke the ball past her.

The two collided ten yards from the goal, and Garmirian's spikes connected with Simmons' ankle. Simmons was forced to leave the game with what appeared to be a severe ankle sprain, and freshman Sarah Beaudoin stepped in as her replacement.

To her credit, the freshman did a remarkable job in relief, shutting out the Jumbo offense without having warmed up at all. Tufts, however, certainly did its part to make Beaudoin look good, as the Jumbos were unable to capitalize on several excellent opportunities around the goal.

"We definitely had a lot of trouble finishing opportunities against them," Furtek said. "We really should've been able to take advantage of how nervous their backup keeper must have been. If we had scored a second goal right when she came in, it would've put the game away for us. Unfortunately, we like to keep things exciting for our audience and stressful for our coaches."

The squad realizes that it must step up on offense next weekend if it intends to take home the NESCAC crown.

"If we don't finish opportunities next weekend, we're going to have a lot of trouble and make things much harder for ourselves than we need to," Furtek said. "If we can start capitalizing on our offensive chances, there isn't any team in the conference who can beat us."

Once again, the Jumbo defense was remarkable as unit, earning its seventh shutout of the year. Tufts finished the regular season with seven goals allowed in NESCAC play, and just ten overall, both good for conference bests.

"The defense was great," senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson said. "The score doesn't reflect the game at all. We need to start finishing the ball so that we end up with the 'right' score. But despite that, the defense really played strong and preserved our lead all game."

"Our defense has been solid all year long and they have been helping [junior keeper] Annie [Ross] out by minimizing the shots on goal," sophomore Lauren Fedore added. "That being said, whenever opponents have gotten through, Annie has come up huge and made some spectacular saves to keep us in games."

The first-round bye the Jumbos received with the win will give them some crucial time off this week, allowing them to rest several injured players. Senior tri-captain Sarah Callaghan remains sidelined with an LCL injury and Fedore is still out with a knee injury sustained in the team's Oct. 22 game against Williams. Stepping up in a big way in the team's game against Conn. College, however, were freshman Abby Werner and junior Kim Harrington.

"There's no way that a team can be great with only 11 players because the chances of people not getting injured or tired throughout the season are really slim," Samuelson said. "So it was so crucial to us that our non-starters were able to step it up in the absence of Lauren and Sarah."

The Jumbos will use this week to prepare for Saturday's semifinal match with Colby in the second of two semifinal games. The first one will feature a matchup between Maine's two other NESCAC schools, Bates and Bowdoin, who reached the round of four through respective wins over Williams and Middlebury. A win over Colby will be especially sweet for Tufts, as the Mules defeated Tufts 2-0 on opening day of the 2005 season.

"I think we all will be extra motivated to beat Colby because they embarrassed us," Samuelson said. "I was actually really mad that Williams got knocked out, because it's always nice to beat the teams in the tourney that you lost to or tied in the regular season."