MEDFORD - Third-ranked Tufts men's soccer wrapped up Homecoming weekend with a down to the wire 1-0 victory over conference opponent Hamilton College in front of the Jumbo faithful at Bello Field on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
|Senior back Jackson Najjar tallied the game-winning assist|
Jumbo senior defenseman Jackson Najjar lofted a pass down the right sideline for junior forward Joe Braun who blasted the ball past Continental goaltender Thomas Benson in the bottom right corner of the goal in the 88th minute for the difference-maker.
Tufts (9-0-0, 5-0-0 NESCAC) played its third game in five days on Sunday. Hamilton (5-4-0, 3-3-0 NESCAC) came out looking to attack the tenacious Jumbo defense when midfielder Jeff Plump put a shot on goal that was stopped by senior goaltender Conner Mieth in the seventh minute. In the eighth minute, sophomore midfielder Mati Cano and junior midfielder Jack Delaney put shots on goal for Tufts after getting past the Continental defense, but both were saved by Benson. Hamilton's forward Aidan Wood had a one-on-one with Mieth in the 11th, but the goalie was able to make the stop to keep the score even.
The teams continued to go back and forth for the next 10 minutes as there were a combined five shots after the Wood attempt. The 6'5" Braun had a great chance in the 22nd minute with a header that hit the top right post and went out of play. The Continentals' back Luke Eckels jumped and connected on a header from midfielder Noah Giovannelli off a corner, but the attempt was stopped by Mieth in the 31st minute. The defenses continued to make life difficult for the offenses, only allowing a combined two shots over the final 14 minutes of the first half.
In the first half, Tufts outshot Hamilton 11 (four on goal) to four (three on goal). Benson recorded four saves to Mieth's three. The Jumbos generated three corners while the Continentals mustered two. Tufts had the ball in the Hamilton side of the field for more of the half.
Tufts dominated possession early in the second half as they have most of the season coming out of the break. Sophomore forward Max Jacobs created a fantastic look in the 47th minute, booting a right-footed shot that was saved by the Continental defense. The Jumbos attempted four shots within the first four minutes of second-half action. Delaney put a header on goal that was saved by Benson in the 58th minute. Junior midfielder Gavin Tasker came back down the left side of the field two minutes later, but again Hamilton's defense saved a goal by kicking it out of play.
The Jumbos' junior back Tanner Jameson rifled one on net that had a chance, but Benson got to the ball to save it in minute 64. Over the course of the next 19 minutes, there were no shots on goal as the defenses wouldn't budge despite three corner kicks in that timeframe. Senior back Sterling Weatherbie lofted a shot on goal in the 84th minute that was once again saved by Benson. Tufts created a corner opportunity in the 85th minute with the play resulting in yellow cards for both Braun and Eckels after Braun went up for the header knocking down Benson.
Tufts finally broke through in the 88th minute off the strike of Braun from Najjar which broke the deadlock and got the crowd on their feet. For Braun, that was his third goal of the season and he now is tied for the team-high in points with eight. Braun recorded five points in the Jumbos' three games over the past five days. Najjar tallied his second assist of the season on the pass to Braun.
Hamilton had an opportunity 12 seconds after the Braun goal that went just high of the goal off the foot of midfielder Roth Wetzel. Benson attempted a shot from just above midfield with five seconds left in the game, but the shot sailed wide left and time ran out.
For the game, the Jumbos outshot the Continentals 21 (10 on goal) to nine (three on goal). Benson played a fantastic game as he tallied seven saves. Mieth's three saves were good for his fifth shutout of the season. Tufts dominated the corner count recording nine corners to Hamilton's three. The action got very physical as the Jumbos committed 17 fouls to the Continentals 11. Four yellow cards were distributed in the contest, three to Hamilton and one to Tufts.
The Jumbos had a fantastic month of September winning all nine games and all five NESCAC contests. Tufts has defended home turf as they have won the six contests they've had at Bello Field. The offense has averaged 1.78 goals per game led by sophomore midfielder Travis Van Brewer and Braun who each have eight points. The defense has only allowed 0.33 goals per game led by the play of senior backs Jackson Najjar and Sterling Weatherbie. Mieth has recorded five shutouts and saved 31 shots in the month of September.
Tufts will return to action on Saturday when they travel to Middlebury for a 1:30 pm kickoff in a conference match. Hamilton's next contest will be on Wednesday at 7 pm when they head to Utica for a non-conference matchup.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello