MEDFORD - The third-ranked Tufts men's soccer team edged Amherst 2-1 in an intense NESCAC contest on Saturday at Bello Field for their eighth win on the season in front of an electric crowd.
Jumbo sophomore midfielder Alex Ratzan brought the ball down the right sideline and dished it over to junior forward Joe Braun who then passed it over to sophomore midfielder Travis Van Brewer who would boot in the Jumbos' second goal - the eventual game-winner - with his left foot past Amherst goalie Bernie White to give Tufts a 2-0 advantage in the 59th minute.
|Van Brewer netted the Jumbos second goal in Tufts 2-1 NESCAC victory|
Tufts (8-0-0, 4-0-0 NESCAC) came out pushing the ball up the field early and generated the game's first corner in the fifth minute. Amherst (3-3-0, 1-3-0 NESCAC) had a great chance in the ninth minute when the ball was out in front of the net where defender Andrew Barkidjija had a strike that was saved by the Jumbo team defense. For the next ten minutes the action was back and forth as both teams had shots blocked or shot high. Mammoth midfielder Dane Lind had a clean shot in the 21st minute that went inches high of the post.
In the 22nd minute, the Jumbos came down the field with numbers on the left side and the ball was deflected over to the right side where sophomore midfielder Mati Cano found it with his right foot. That led to him booting the ball into the right corner of the net past White. The goal was the second of the season for Cano and led the Jumbo faithful to their feet as Tufts took a 1-0 lead.
Amherst forward Jack O'Brien created a scoring opportunity on the right side in the 24th minute, but senior goalie Conner Mieth of the Jumbos saved the shot. Both defenses clamped down for the final 20 minutes of the half, with only one shot by senior defenseman Sterling Weatherbie from Tufts getting on goal in the 27th minute.
In the first half, the Mammoths outshot the Jumbos seven to six with both teams registering three shots on goal. Mieth tallied two saves to White's one save in the first 45 minutes of action. Tufts also generated three corners to Amherst's two. This game was chippy from the start with Lind recording a yellow card only nine seconds into the contest. The Jumbos committed 10 fouls to the Mammoths' five.
The Jumbos dominated possession early in the second half recording three shots within the first eight minutes. Tufts had a fantastic opportunity in the 53rd minute to extend the lead when junior midfielder Gavin Tasker booted a phenomenal kick up the field that found junior midfielder Brett Rojas who just missed a goal high over the right post.
In the 59th minute, the Jumbos were able to put the second goal in the back of the net to bring the passionate crowd to its feet once again and create a 2-0 lead. Ratzan, who had been in the game for a little over a minute, tallied his first point of the season as he recorded one of the two assists on the Van Brewer goal. Braun, who registered the other assist, recorded his second assist on the season as well as his sixth point which is tied for the second most points on the team. The Van Brewer goal was his second of the season to go along with four assists and a team-high eight points.
Ratzan had an opportunity to extend the lead to 3-0 in the 68th minute, but White made a fantastic save on the right-footed shot. Amherst then struck in the 70th minute when Lind took a free kick and forward Sebastian Derby was able to find the back of the net. Lind picked up his sixth assist on the season while Derby's goal was his second.
Tufts' sophomore forward Max Jacobs put a shot on the net with his right foot in the 71st minute that was saved by White. Lind took a corner kick in the 74th minute that found the head of his teammate defenseman Bryce Johnson, but Mieth was there to stop the shot. The next 10 minutes got more chippy as the intensity continued to grow and the Jumbo defense didn't allow a shot. Amherst created another Lind corner in the 85th minute that found the head of defenseman Nico Kenary, but again Mieth was there for the save. Amherst had one last chance in the final minute as the header from the Mammoths was saved by Mieth.
For the game, both Tufts and Amherst attempted 15 shots, but the Mammoths put eight shots on goal to the Jumbos' five. Mieth had six saves while White recorded three saves. Tufts generated five corners to Amherst's four. The Jumbos committed 19 fouls to the Mammoths' 11. Tasker attempted a game-high four shots.
Tufts will next take the field on Sunday as they host Hamilton at 2:30 pm at Bello Field in a conference contest. Amherst will host conference opponent Bates on Sunday at 2:30 at Gooding Field.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello