Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Women's soccer | Mules prove to be stubborn as women's, men's teams battle Colby to dual stalemates in soccer season openers

The 2006 women's soccer season began similarly to last year's-with the Jumbos stumbling in their first contest and failing to outscore the Colby Mules. But the Jumbos emerged from this contest with minimal record damage, as the two teams battled their way to a scoreless tie on Saturday at Kraft Field. The 0-0 final was the first such result at Kraft in 13 years.

As the 2005 team overcame an opening-day 2-0 loss,

ultimately fighting its way into the National Semifinals, coach Martha Whiting had no problem maintaining a positive outlook on this season, even after 110 minutes of stalemated play.

"I was very satisfied; I thought we played well," Whiting said. "In a first game, you expect to see some jitters. But we were very encouraged. We saw a lot of good things out there."

One such positive was the reassuringly strong play of the Tufts offense, despite the lack of scoring. Led by junior midfielder Martha Furtek, freshman forward Fanna Gamal and junior forward Lauren Fedore, the team proved that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. The Jumbos put constant pressure on the Colby defenders, getting off 20 shots in the game, including six in the overtime periods.

This year's offense has been completely rebuilt since last season, as all of its top four scorers graduated; however, there is hope-and now evidence-that the new, revamped squad will rebound.

"I think we'll be fine," Whiting said. "We took six new players onto this team, and each one of them brings something different. They bring speed, they bring toughness, they bring smarts. It's just a matter of adjusting to the new players. We'll sort that out."

The Jumbos kept the Mules on the defensive, taking some pressure off the Tufts back line. Senior tri-captain and goalkeeper Annie Ross recorded six saves in the contest, as the Mules mustered only eight shots, all of them in regulation.

"Every NESCAC game is going to be tough," Ross said. "It looked like an easy game for our defenders, but that's only because our offense played so well. [Colby Senior tri-captain] Laura Williamson was First-Team All-NESCAC last season, she scored on us twice last year, and we shut her down. You couldn't even tell she was All-NESCAC."

Meanwhile on offense, Furtek led the way for Tufts with four shots, while Gamal and Fedore each added three. Sophomore forward Abby Werner came off the bench and took three shots as well, while junior defender Joelle Emery also got off two.

"Our forwards were making great runs," Ross said. "We had a lot of great chances, but we didn't find a way to finish them."

Gamal may have been the game's biggest and most pleasant surprise, emerging as a key offensive player in her first college game. But as Whiting explains, the play of this year's freshman class should come as no shock.

"So far, so good," Whiting said of her rookies. "They're really easy-going players. And the returning players have been great, really embracing them and making them feel welcome."

"[The freshmen are] great," Ross added. "They're a really good group of girls, and they really want to make this program the best it can be. They come to practice and give it all they've got, and that's all we can ask."

The Tufts offense was especially dominant in the overtime periods, firing six shots at Colby senior goalkeeper Liza Benson. Despite the effects of fatigue over the course of a long game, the Jumbos only became more aggressive as the game progressed.

"The last thing I said before overtime was, 'We're playing this game to win,'" Whiting said. "'Let's try and put that ball into the back of the net as quickly as possible. The sooner we score, the sooner we can get off the field and get some rest.'"

The Jumbos came out swinging in the opening seconds of overtime, but Colby cleared the ball following a corner kick from junior midfielder Jess Wagner with 9:09 left in overtime. Tufts soon threatened again, but Benson came up with a key save, denying senior tri-captain Kim Harrington a chance at the game-winner with 7:21 left.

Five minutes later, Gamal broke free from the Colby defense and went one-on-one with Benson but rolled a shot right to the keeper for an easy save. The Mules stabilized things for the final two minutes of the first overtime, and the second overtime was a war of attrition, as the two exhausted teams struggled to the 0-0 conclusion.

The Jumbos begin a three-game road swing on Wednesday afternoon, taking on national powerhouse Wheaton, which is 3-1 on the season.