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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

Women's soccer | Panthers bare their claws, sweep Tufts in NESCAC weekend

Whatever the women's soccer team expected for the 2006 season, it wasn't this.

After starting the season with a national No. 3 ranking, the Jumbos are still looking for their first win now three games into the season. The most recent loss, a 2-1 result at Middlebury on Saturday, dropped the Jumbos to 0-2-1 overall, with a record of 0-1-1 in NESCAC play.

The Jumbos dug themselves a hole in the first half, as Middlebury took an early lead just 13 minutes in with a tally from senior tri-captain Caitrin Abshere.

"Middlebury came out flying, and we came out flat," junior midfielder Martha Furtek said. "We didn't win any 50/50 balls in the first half and were never really able to generate any offense."

Middlebury extended its lead to two when senior midfielder Laura Kwoh found the back of the net for the Panthers in the 37th minute. The Jumbos did little in the half to challenge Middlebury sophomore goalkeeper Adele Plunkett, who was forced to make only two saves in the first 45 minutes.

Tufts turned its play around in the second frame, sending nine shots to the Middlebury goal. The offense finally connected in the 57th minute, when junior midfielder Jessie Wagner assisted junior forward Lauren Fedore for Tufts' first goal of the season.

"Jessie sent a great corner in to the back post, and I got to it first and headed it in," Fedore said.

The goal was a relief for the Jumbos, who had failed to score in their previous two matches. With its four leading scorers from last season gone, the team is looking for a new offensive keystone to lead the charge. The squad is still looking to improve its team chemistry which is crucial for success in soccer.

"We're definitely still learning to play with each other," Furtek said. "I think one of the major problems is that no one is being selfish. We've been looking to pass in the box rather than take shots. Lauren's goal yesterday was a relief for all of us. We know that the potential is there; we just need to start playing with more confidence."

Despite the collective sigh of relief it prompted, Fedore's goal failed to spark a Jumbo rally. Plunkett kept the Tufts attack at bay with eight saves in the half.

Tufts senior tri-captain Annie Ross needed to make only two saves in the second half, signaling a marked improvement in the defensive deployment of the Jumbos as the game progressed.

Although it is still early in the season, the Jumbos' mediocre play so far begs the question of whether the expectations following last year's NCAA Tournament run and this year's high early ranking are affecting the team's performance.

"We know what it feels like to win, and it was wonderful," Fedore said. "We had a great team and great chemistry, but we have a totally new team this year and are trying to find our own chemistry. It's a different team than last year, and we are still trying to find our own method to win."

Despite coming up winless in its first three games, the team remains optimistic about its chances to end the skid.

"Having a losing record is obviously a disappointment, but luckily it's still early enough in the season to turn things around," Furtek said. "We were caught back on our heels yesterday, but we came back with much more intensity in the second half and played much better."

The Jumbos will get their next chance to break the slump on Saturday when they travel to Amherst. The Lord Jeffs are a perfect 2-0 in NESCAC play thus far with a pair of wins over Trinity and Bates. Despite losing 3-1 to the Jumbos last season, the Lord Jeffs finished second in the NESCAC standings. This year, the Jeffs are on top, and the Jumbos will be looking to knock them off their

perch.

"We need to put the last three games behind us, keep working hard, and take it one game at a time," Furtek said.