Men's Soccer New on the Scene at NESCAC Championship Weekend Hosted by Williams
MEDFORD - Now that the Tufts men's soccer team has a pair of accomplishments that the program hasn't achieved since 2001 - hosting and winning a NESCAC quarterfinal - the 2012 Jumbos have their sights set on something the team has never done.
On Saturday at 11 am, head coach Josh Shapiro's squad will play in the conference semi-finals against Wiliams. Tufts, the #4 seed in the conference, defeated #5 Bowdoin 3-0 in the quarterfinals at Kraft Field last Saturday. They now face host and #1 seed Williams with a berth into the conference championship game on the line.
Tufts has never advanced to the conference championship match, and will have their work cut out for them on Saturday. Williams, a three-time NESCAC champion and three-time runner up, will be trying to reach its seventh league title game. The Jumbos lost 1-0 at Williams during the regular-season, but played well. Saturday is a big game for the upstart Tufts program.
"Our whole season depends on one game in a hostile environment," said senior co-captain Rafa Ramos-Meyer (Washington, DC). "Everything we have done as soccer players, every sacrifice we have made since coming to Tufts, and all of our efforts are for this weekend. If we give everything we've got, we will be fine."
The Jumbos also have a potential NCAA berth on the line. They are on the bubble at 9-3-3 overall and ranked seventh in the region. A victory at Williams would increase the chances of Tufts earning its first NCAA berth since 1996.
Second-seed Amherst plays third-seed Wesleyan in Saturday's other NESCAC semi-final at 1:30 pm. The winners will meet for the conference championship on Sunday at noon.
2012 NESCAC MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Semi-finals on Saturday (Nov. 3)
#1 Williams vs. #4 Tufts, 11 am
#2 Amherst vs. #3 Wesleyan, 1:30 pm
Championship Game on Sunday (Nov. 4) at noon
Tufts started the 2012 season 4-0, including an impressive 2-1 victory at Wesleyan. However, they endured a mediocre stretch in the middle of the season that saw them go 2-3-3 during an eight-game period. The momentum changed when a last-minute goal gave them a 2-1 victory against Hamilton on Seniors Day. Then they defeated Bowdoin twice, leading up to this weekend's action.
With several injuries to cope with, the Jumbos have been able to limit the damage and have just three losses in 15 games this fall.
"I think our depth has been a key," senior co-captain Pat Bauer (Portland, OR) said. "We have had a lot of injuries this year and we really believe that every player on the team can step on the field and have a major impact."
It's been a year of continued progress for the Jumbo program. They appeared in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national poll for the first time in many seasons. They've already had their best NESCAC regular-season and post-season showing in 11 years. On Saturday they must take down a league heavyweight in order to add to the list.