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

Tufts goes 0-2 on NESCAC weekend road trip

(Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily)
As the No. 12-ranked Jumbos got on the bus to come back to Medford, a new and unexpected feeling greeted them: disappointment. The team played two NESCAC road games this weekend, both of which were pushed to double overtime. On Sunday, Tufts played Hamilton, a team that entered the contest with a 1-4 conference record. The Continentals were able to pull off the upset by a score of 2-1. Just a day earlier, Tufts played at No. 4 Amherst -- which is undefeated on the season thus far -- and lost 1-0. The pair of double overtime losses drops Tufts’ record to 5-3-1 on the season with a 3-2-1 NESCAC record.

Tufts and Hamilton entered the second overtime period tied at one goal apiece after a game that featured many chances for both teams. Tufts outshot Hamilton by a total of 12 to eight, but only two of Tufts' shots were on net, compared to four of Hamilton's. Although each team had a good number of shots, two of the three goals of the game came on penalty kicks. Tufts struck first with a penalty kick in the 38th minute of the game when senior tri-captain Connor Schaible was taken down in the box.

As Schaible ran to take his try at his first goal of the season, there was some confusion as to whether the try would count. The referee blew his whistle to give a yellow card to a player near Hamilton’s bench, but both Schaible and junior goalie Harris Pollack thought that the referee had blown for the penalty kick to be taken. After Pollack saved the shot, the Jumbos were given another shot at converting. This time, sophomore midfielder/forward Scott Sclar took the kick and buried it in the left side of the net to give Tufts a one-goal advantage with his first goal of the season.The Jumbos held the lead with tough defense. They looked as if they were going to escape with a 1-0 win and another clean sheet for junior goalie Scott Greenwood, but the Continentals went on the attack in the 82nd minute. Hamilton earned a penalty kick of their own when Greenwood fouled senior midfielder Erich Marcks in the box, while getting booked in the process. Marcks was able to convert the penalty kick to knot the score at one.

After a first overtime period during which neither team seemed to make a dangerous bid to win the game,Tufts set up for a corner kick in the middle of the second overtime. Tufts has had success on set pieces, especially with senior midfielder Rui Pinheiro and senior defender Monil Patel sending in balls from the corner. Pinheiro set up to strike this one and sent a ball into the box that first-year Sterling Weatherbie got his head on and sent toward goal. But the ball sailed wide of the net, and the Jumbos were whistled for offsides on the play, allowing Hamilton to mount a counterattack.Junior defender Spenser Heller scored on a charge with under four minutes to play, which featured passes by junior midfielder Alec Talsania and sophomore forward Jack Temko. The win for the Continentals was the first against a nationally ranked opponent since 2007.

After playing into double overtime against Amherst on Saturday, a long game against Hamilton might have resulted in fatigue for the Jumbos.

“In regards to a spillover effect, I'd say one of the only things would be tired legs,” Schaible said. “We knew it was going to be a difficult weekend, and no matter what happened Saturday, we would have to move on and play Sunday. At the end of the day we just didn't get it done.”

Just a day before, Tufts played at Amherst and suffered a similar double overtime defeat. The game was the first at which the winner would be awarded the Moe Zeidan Cup, which honors the late Moe Zeidan, who attended Amherst as an undergraduate and was then pursuing a doctoral degree at Tufts School of Medicine before suffering a fatal bicycle accident.

The Lord Jeffs controlled the pace of the game, outshooting the Jumbos 17 to 10, including 11 shots on goal to the Jumbos' five. Senior tri-captain Nico Pascual-Leone was able to score on his sixth shot of the day with a rip from 25 yards out to give Amherst a thrilling 1-0 victory in the 106th minute. Three Jumbos each had two shots in the game: sophomore midfielder Tyler Kulcsar,junior forward Nathan Majumder and sophomore defender Matt Zinner. Despite the many chances that Tufts had, the team was not able to beat the Amherst keeper, senior tri-captain Thomas Bull.

"We believe that we just need to stay determined and positive," senior tri-captain Jason Kayne said. "After a slew of results we didn't want, we need to focus on our passion for the game and work ethic. That's what we believe will end up putting us on the right side of these games."

The team has a chance to redeem itself on Saturday during Homecoming. Tufts will welcome Middlebury, which currently holds a 3-1-1 NESCAC record.

“We're excited to get back to practice and get back out there for sure,” Schaible said. “[Middlebury] will be a really tough game, but if we can get a win against them, we'll be right back on track. As for the atmosphere, I really think it's one of the best in the NESCAC and a huge advantage, so we're excited to play in front of the rowdy crowd again.”