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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, April 18, 2024

Jumbos on two-game win streak as regular season winds down

Tufts junior midfielder Nathan Majumder attempts to keep possession of the ball in a game against Middlebury on Oct. 10. Majumder is the second highest scorer in the NESCAC this season.

The men’s soccer team began the final stretch of the regular season this past week with two road games. On Tuesday, the team traveled to Keene, N.H. to take on Keene State before heading west to Williamstown on Saturday for a NESCAC game against Williams. The team emerged from the week 2-0 and is back on a winning track after playing to a draw against Bates the previous weekend.

The 3-0 win against Williams had postseason benefits for Tufts. With the victory, the team ensures a top-four NESCAC finish in the regular season and thus a home game for the NESCAC quarterfinals this weekend. Despite being outshot 10 to seven by the Ephs, the Jumbos were able to beat junior Williams goalie Christian Alcorn three times on only four shots on goal.

The opportunistic Tufts offense was led by junior forward Nathan Majumder, who scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season. This makes Majumder the second highest scorer in the conference this season behind Amherst’s Nico Pascual-Leone, a junior, who has tallied 11 goals. Majumder’s first goal came on a penalty kick in the 21st minute, and the teams entered the halftime locker room with Tufts holding a 1-0 lead. Junior goalie Scott Greenwood kept the Ephs out of the goal, despite a quality scoring chance in the 38th minute off the foot of sophomore forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo.

“I think the increase in scoring is a result of a more aggressive and attacking-minded attitude among everybody on the team,” Majumder said. “The team as a whole has increased productivity in front of the net in the last couple games. After scoring only three goals in seven games, to net six in two games is obviously a massive improvement.”

Majumder found himself in the box again just after the second half started and was able to put home his second goal of the game, giving Tufts a 2-0 lead by poking a ball past Alcorn. Despite a standout defensive performance by the Ephs, the Jumbo offense tacked on another goal in the 66th minute when senior tri-captain Jason Kayne scored on a ball from junior midfielder Kevin Lawson. “After having a piece of the season go not as well as we hoped it would, we knew that getting our momentum back was key,” Lawson said. “After these last few games, I think we’ll definitely have that spark back in our game. This last weekend…[was] the reminder we needed that we’re capable of doing big things in and out of this league.”

This game marked another strong showing for the Tufts defense. The Jumbos defensive unit has not allowed a goal since the Oct. 4 contest against Hamilton. The Williams game marks the fifth straight clean sheet for Greenwood and ninth overall on the season. The Ephs put together scoring chances throughout the game, but the Jumbo defense held firm and prevented a goal.

“The defense has been awesome all season but particularly during this current streak of shutouts,” Majumder said. “Last year we were praised as having one of the best defenses in the country, but then we graduated some key guys, and some people were unsure of who would replace them. But the defense has stepped up big time, and we are one shutout away from tying the number of regular season shutouts we had last year [at nine].”

The win moves Tufts’ record to 8-3-2 overall (5-2-2 NESCAC) and into third place in the conference behind Middlebury and Amherst. The loss drops Williams’ conference record to 4-4-1, which puts them in fifth place in the conference.

On Tuesday, the team stepped out of conference for a trip to Keene State. The Jumbos emerged victorious by an identical 3-0 score. Senior midfielder Rui Pinheiro, who scored in Tufts’ 1-0 win against Gordon College on Oct. 13, scored in the 29th minute for what would end up being the game’s deciding goal. Majumder got the assist on the goal by dropping off a pass for Pinheiro, whose shot ricocheted pass first-year goalie Justin Carnevale. Just three minutes later, Majumder joined in on the scoring with a strike assisted by Lawson, who tacked on the third and final Jumbo goal in the 86th minute. Sophomore goalie Bruce Johnson made his first start in net for the team, replacing Greenwood for this out-of-conference tilt.

“It felt really amazing [to score],” Lawson said. “Honestly, it wasn’t much more than a tap-in because [first-year] Jarod Glover left me the ball right in front of the net, but it still felt great to finally get the first.”

Tufts has one remaining game on its regular season schedule, a home bout against Bowdoin on Wednesday, before the postseason begins with the NESCAC tournament on Saturday.

“In the NESCAC tournament, the key will be to approach every game with a need to prove something without an expectation that we will win without working for it,” Majumder said. “The last two seasons, we have gone into the first round of NESCACs believing that we were the better team and thinking that this would help us win — and we have not won a NESCAC playoff game since I have been here. We have learned that no previous record or achievement will win us a game on a given day — only outworking our opponent for 90 straight minutes will do that.”