During unevenly matched soccer games, for the favorite to avoid an upset, one of the most effective strategies is getting out to an early lead — burying all of the underdog’s victory hopes. In Sunday’s interconference matchup against winless New England College, the United Soccer Coaches’ No. 20 ranked Tufts women’s soccer team did exactly that.
It did not take long for the Jumbos to get on the scoreboard. In the second minute of play, first-year forward Camille Lu sent a beautiful cross into the box that first-year forward Elsi Aires slotted with a one-time finish into the bottom left corner of the net. But the squad did not stop there. It was just under three minutes later when Lu had a goal for herself, tapping in a cross from junior midfielder Casey Lam that managed to make its way through the defense.
If a statement had not already been made by the team, it would only take them about one more minute to do so. After the first six minutes, first-year midfielder Caroline Kelly struck a shot from long-range that went bar-down into the net, making it 3–0 for the Jumbos.
Such dominance would continue throughout the entire half, and by halftime, the score was 7–0. The remaining goals of the half included another Lu goal off of a corner kick from graduate student midfielder Lily Keiderling, two goals from sophomore forward Juliana Rosen and a goal from about 25 yards out from junior midfielder Thalia Greenberg after winning the ball off of the defender.
In blowout games like this one, it can be difficult to come away with something that can help the team in future games. However, senior goalkeeper Kaelin Logue, who recorded a clean sheet and two saves on the day, recognized that pure enjoyment of the game can often be something that helps propel teams to victory when the going gets tough.
“Something to take away is just remembering to have fun- the reason we all started playing in the first place,” Logue wrote in an electronic message to the Daily.
After Logue and the Jumbos’ defense finished the first half unscathed, it came time for first-year goalkeeper Kianna Hill to record her first collegiate minutes.
“[Hill] had ankle surgery and was cleared right at the start of the season so seeing her play her first collegiate minutes was special to me, especially in that I can relate to how challenging it can be to mentally play after surgery (I’ve had 2 knee surgeries),” Logue wrote.
Hill played the entirety of the second half and, along with the team’s defense, worked to record a shutout. Meanwhile, on the offensive side, the day was not finished for the Jumbos. Specifically, the day was not over for Lu, who was able to score twice more. The first came in the 68th minute following a failed NEC defensive clearance, while the second occurred in the 88th minute when Kelly played a brilliant through ball to Lu. With this fourth goal, Lu set the Tufts women’s soccer program record for number of goals in a single game. By the end of the match, the score was 9–0.
The Jumbos’ domination lies beyond the score and the eye test though, through utter control of the stat lines: The team had 34 shots with 22 on frame to the Pilgrims’ four with only two on net, and while the Pilgrims did not have a single corner kick on the day, the Jumbos had nine.
Following Sunday’s game, the Jumbos moved to a 7–2–1 record, going 4–2–1 in the NESCAC. As the squad transitions into the postseason mode, hoping to be in a strong position for NESCAC and potentially NCAA playoffs, these last regular season games are of utmost importance. Rather than get caught up in what lies ahead in the season, the team maintains the “one game at a time” mentality.
“I still think the mindset of going 1-0 is important,” Logue wrote. “Anyone can win any game on any given day, so it’s going into each game knowing that every opponent is there to compete.”
The Tufts women’s soccer team travels to Lewiston, Maine, to take on the Bates Bobcats on Saturday.