MIDDLEBURY, VT.- Tufts' defense held strong in a battle with fourth-ranked Middlebury on Saturday, as the Jumbos tied at zero on the road in Vermont.
|Emily Bowers stopped 12 shots, she ranks third in the conference with 46 saves.|
Middlebury had entered the game undefeated, winning their first ten games of the year, while Tufts came into the game ranked nationally for the first time all season at #23. The talent level between two of the top NESCAC teams was apparent from early on.
Junior Ashley Latona earned her first start of the year at midfield for Tufts and made the most of her time. After both teams jockeyed for possession early on, Latona funneled an excellent chip pass over the defense to fellow junior Tally Clark who narrowly missed high on the shot.
Defense proved to be the theme in this matchup as the final scoreboard indicated. Junior defender Sarah Maloney managed to stay vocal while leading the Jumbos from her center back position. Middlebury was able to generate several legitimate scoring opportunities which had been shut down by heads-up tackles in the Jumbos' "bend-not-break" defensive backline.
While slow early on, the pace of play picked up toward the end of the first half. Middlebury was able to break free with 14 minutes left, leaving Jumbo goalkeeper Emily Bowers as the last line of defense. Bowers maintained her cool, stepping up aggressively, forcing the shot attempt by Ellie Greenberg wide left.
After entering the half knotted up with no goals on either side, fourth-ranked Middlebury would come out firing in the second. The Jumbo backline faced constant pressure, while Bowers made a season-high 12 saves. She played arguably her best game all season by remaining fearless while facing three separate fast break situations with just her and a Panther forward.
Overtime provided more of the same back and forth play as both teams struggled to find the back of the net. Middlebury was able to threaten twice in the last minute of the second overtime period, yet Bowers remained focused throughout, stopping both shots cold. The final scoreboard showed two nationally ranked teams knotted up with no goals, in what could be a future postseason matchup.
Latona led the way for the Jumbos on offense placing the team's only shot on net. Eliza Van Voorhis led the way for the Panthers with four shots on goal. Bowers stopped 12 shots in her time in net, while Ursula Alwang managed to stop the one shot she faced.
Tufts returns to Kraft Field in Somerville on Tuesday to face Salem State, whereas Middlebury returns to action next Saturday as they travel to play Trinity College.
Written by Athletic Communications Intern Garrett Kerr