Saturday’s game between the Tufts University Jumbos and the Connecticut College Camels was highly contested in a close matchup. This was the second game of both teams’ seasons as they played out-of-conference openers to start the year.
The No. 6 ranked Jumbos beat the MIT Engineers handily, winning 5–0 in their opening game. In the United Soccer Coaches’ Preseason Poll, MIT received votes but wasn’t able to crack the top 25 teams ranked nationally. Tufts captain Ian Daly scored two goals, while Mikey Brady, Mark Huynh and James Gunn each scored one. This comes in slight contrast to last year’s opening game against MIT, where Tufts just barely prevailed in overtime, winning 1–0. In the 2022–23 season, overtime is no longer a factor, as games will end at the conclusion of the 90 minutes of play.
Connecticut College played Mitchell College in its opener and won 9–0 in dominating fashion. The 2021 National Champions came into this season ranked No. 1 in the nation and built off of the momentum from the end of last year.
In their three matchups last year, Conn. College ultimately came out on top over Tufts during the season. The Camels beat the Jumbos in the regular season 2–0 but lost the NESCAC Championship game 2–0. Their final contest came in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament, where Conn. College prevailed 5–4.
This matchup proved to be just as tightly contested as the previous season’s, with the game starting out in a back-and-forth fashion. Both defenses held strong against their opponents’ attacks. In the 20th minute, Conn. College senior goalkeeper Sam Maidenberg received a back pass from his center back. The Jumbos attacking line put high pressure on the defenders and were able to block the pass from Maidenberg but weren’t able to direct the ball toward the goal. This play, however, set the tone for the rest of the game that it would be high pressure at all times.
In the 30th minute, sophomore goalie Erik Lauta made a great diving stop to his left-hand side on a hard-hit shot across the face of goal by Conn. College junior midfielder Jack Marvel. The Jumbos responded quickly with an opportunity of their own, when senior midfielder Woovin Shin laid the ball off to the right side of the 18-yard box to Ian Daly who rocketed a shot that was blocked away by the Camels’ defense. The best chance of the first half for either side came right at the end on a curling shot by Conn. College forward Jake Creus that Lauta deflected off of the crossbar to keep the score at 0–0.
Lauta made three saves in the game on eight Conn. College shots, while Maidenberg made one save on nine shots.
In the second half, things started off very quickly for Tufts. Two minutes in, junior midfielder Liam Gerkin of the Jumbos received the ball on the right flank and slipped it to midfielder Zach Seigelstein. Seigelstein attempted a cross, but it sailed over the top of the crossbar and out of play. In the 62nd minute, first-year forward Mason Shultz took the layoff from fellow first-year forward Henry Perkins and rifled a shot that was parried away.
The best chance of the game for Tufts came in a one-on-one breakaway for sophomore forward Anthony Bhangdia. He received the through ball, got past his defender and hit a hard shot toward the bottom left corner of the Conn. College goal. It took a stellar kick save by Maidenberg to deflect the ball wide and deny a late goal for the Jumbos.
“I think the easiest thing to get set initially is the defensive stuff and the tactical stuff, and the finishing will come as the season progresses. It’s still only just our second game of the season, so [I’m] not too worried,” senior forward Sean Traynor said.
In the dying minutes of the second half, the Camels put pressure on the Jumbos back line. Senior midfielder Eric Ingersoll made a crucial block on a shot from the Camels’ senior defender and captain Steve Yeonas. This resulted in a corner kick that was headed just over the crossbar by forward Oury Diane. Lauta was able to run down the clock on the goal kick to finish out the game.
Overall, a draw was a good result for the Jumbos, and they showed definite signs of promise for their upcoming games. The road ahead won’t be easy, as the NESCAC is one of the toughest Div. III conferences in the nation. Tufts will play Wesleyan away from home on Tuesday. The Cardinals are 2–0 this season overall and 1–0 in the conference, having beaten Colby College 4–3 over the weekend.
“I think, you know, we have six or seven really, really competitive games in our schedule, and this was just one of them. And so it’s our job to go and win as many of them as we can,” Traynor said.
The Jumbos will look to continue their strong play into the rest of this week and weekend to put themselves in a good position for the postseason.