The women’s soccer team returned home to face Colby on Saturday and No. 16 Trinity (Conn.) on Sunday after a strong five-game road trip which included significant victories over Wesleyan, No. 22 Amherst and No. 19 MIT. These performances garnered a ranking at No. 6 for the Jumbos in the United Soccer Coaches national poll of NCAA Division III women’s teams as of Sept 27.
The loss to Trinity and win over Colby caused Tufts to fall from No. 6 to No. 18 in the United Soccer Coaches ranking as of Oct. 4. Trinity, on the other hand, rose in the rankings from No. 22 to No. 16 following the win at Tufts on Sunday and a draw at Bates on Saturday.
In the first half against the No. 16 Trinity Bantams on Sunday, the Jumbos registered seven shots but had three of them saved and were held scoreless by Bantam goalkeeper Mariana Cournoyer, who was the reigning NESCAC Women’s Soccer Player of the Week.
The Jumbos’ best scoring chance of the first half came in the 29th minute, when senior midfielder Maddie Pero dribbled the ball into the Bantams’ penalty area and had junior midfielder Thalia Greenberg completely unmarked in front of an empty net at the far post. Pero opted to take the shot, which Cournoyer saved with her feet. The deflected ball had heavy spin on it, which caused Greenberg to completely miss the ball and crash into the back of the empty net as the ball rolled out of bounds for a Jumbos corner kick.
Trinity only registered one shot in the first half. They would, however, open the second half more aggressively, registering four shots in the first 13 minutes compared to only one shot by Tufts in that same time frame. The last of these four shots opened the game’s scoring in the 58th minute when Bantams’ attacking midfielder Gabby Grattan put her head on the end of a long looping corner kick by junior midfielder Cassie Lee.
The Bantams played more defensively following this goal, only managing one shot for the rest of the game while Jumbos continued to create chances, with their best chance of the second half in the 71st minute. First-year forward Elsi Aires played a through ball to Pero, who struck a powerful shot from the edge of the penalty area which swerved just wide of the left goalpost.
Ultimately, the Bantams were able to keep the Jumbos off the scoresheet, which culminated in the team’s staggering seventh clean sheet of the season in only 10 games. The Bantams also remarkably have only conceded three goals this season ― each in separate games ― and remain undefeated.
On Saturday, the Jumbos entered as heavy favorites in the showdown with the Colby Mules, who entered as dead last in NESCAC play with a conference record of 0 wins and 4 losses.
The Jumbos got on the scoresheet in the 15th minute when sophomore defender Caroline O’Neill put a dangerous corner kick into the six-yard box. The deflected ball fell in the direction of the far post and first-year defender Lena Sugrue, who masterfully placed the ball around a lunging goalkeeper and defender and into the back of the net off of a difficult bounce.
The opening goal was Sugrue’s first of her collegiate career, and though it came in her seventh game, it wouldn’t take long for her to add her second. In the 29th minute, a corner kick sent in from graduate student defensive midfielder Lily Keiderling directly found the head of Sugrue, who had broken free from the defender marking her and was able to redirect the ball into the back of the net. Sugrue earned the post-game broadcast interview and discussed her success with the Daily after the game.
“I think it’s something we’ve been working on for a while now,” Sugrue said on set pieces, having scored each of her goals from one. “My teammates have really been encouraging me to get in there on set pieces. I had a few in practice, so they’ve been waiting for this one.”
The Jumbos completed their scoring in the 47th minute when first-year midfielder Caroline Kelly played a through ball softly but just a bit too far for Pero. The Mules’ goalkeeper Emily McMaster came off her line for the slow rolling ball in a rather routine play, but she mistimed her dive and was unable to hold onto the ball, which conveniently fell to the feet of Pero, who immediately pushed the ball into the empty net for the Jumbos’ third goal.
The Jumbos would hold on to defeat Colby 3-1. They will travel to Henniker, NH on Sunday, Oct. 9 to take on the New England College Pilgrims in an interconference matchup.