MEDFORD - Junior Mary Travers scored a goal and assisted another as the #3 ranked Tufts University Field Hockey team opened 2016 NCAA Tournament play with a 2-0 win over the University of New England in the second round on Saturday and Ounjian Field.
The Jumbos (17-2), who earned a first-round bye, will play Skidmore College in the national quarterfinals on Sunday at Ounjian Field with a 1 pm start. The Thoroughbreds were a 2-0 winner against St. Joseph's (Maine) in the other second-round game in Medford on Saturday.
UNE finishes its season with a 20-4 record. The Nor'Easters made their fourth NCAA appearance in 2016.
The visiting Nor'Easters had the first two scoring opportunities of the day. Senior Nicole Matarozzo tapped a shot just wide from right in front of the goal early on, then junior Alex Staples had the first shot on goal in the contest which was kicked out by Jumbo sophomore goalie Emily Polinski.
Travers led Jumbo pressure that resulted in three Tufts corner opportunties in the middle of the period. They scored on third as junior Erin Sanders drove home the insert pass from Travers 17:22 into the first half for a 1-0 Tufts lead.
Again in the middle of the action on a Tufts scoring play, Travers intercepted a UNE clear and went in for a shot that was saved. However, the rebound came right back to her and Travers' second chance went in with 12:17 remaining until halftime for a 2-0 Tufts advantage.
Despite the 2-0 deficit, Nor'Easter senior goalie Holly Smith was strong during the first 35 minutes. She finished the first half with eight saves as Tufts had a 15-1 advantage in shots and 5-0 on corners. UNE freshman Bridget Cavanaugh also had a defensive save helping keep the margin at 2-0 heading into halftime.
Play would even up in the second half. A strong bid by UNE junior Olivia Madore was wide early in the half. The Nor'Easters earned their only corner opportunity eight minutes into the frame and a blast by Matarozzo was just wide to the left. The guests put a good bit of pressure on Tufts as play carried on, including a Staples shot through traffic that was saved by Polinski.
The Jumbos would tilt momentum back in their favor late in the half, but could not add to the led and did not have to as they went on to post their 11th shutout of the year.
Tufts finished with a 20-3 lead in shots and 7-1 in corners. Polinski stopped two shots while Smith finished with nine saves for UNE.
Tufts, the 2012 NCAA Champions, wil be playing for their fourth berth into the NCAA semi-finals tomorrow against Skidmore.