WILLIAMSTOWN - Top-ranked Williams College is set to host Tufts for the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) women's soccer semi-finals on Saturday morning at 11am, with the winner advancing to the championship game on Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Tufts handled Wesleyan for the second time this year in the quarterfinals 2-0, with sophomore Liz Reed scoring both goals of the game. The Jumbo defense is looking to continue their success at Williams as they did not allow one shot on goal during the win over the Cardinals.
Top-seeded Williams is coming off a 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Colby in a game where they only allowed one shot on net as a team, while producing 13 on offense. The Ephs' undefeated record of 12-0-2 has earned them the ranking of third in the country. Saturday will almost certainly hold a defensive battle, similar to when these teams played this season on October 20 at Kraft Field. Williams took that match-up with a 1-0 win on a late-game goal by leading scorer Sydney Jones.
Tufts had ended their regular season with two losses to fellow NESCAC teams, but they seem to have rediscovered their defensive groove that earned them 10 shutouts on the year. Freshman defensive back Kylie Metcalf has started the last two games for the Jumbos as part of the backline of three. Along with senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers, Tufts has allowed just 9 goals all season, good for fourth in the conference.
Still, this Tufts team is not one-dimensional and they can certainly put up high-scoring numbers as well. Reed has scored 12 points in the Jumbos' last six games, as she and fellow sophomore forward Sophie Lloyd are tied with 23 points for fourth in total conference points.
A win on Saturday would result in Tufts' fifth appearance in the conference championship. The Jumbos may want this win a bit extra too, considering last season ended with a 2-1 overtime loss at Williams in the NESCAC championship.
The Williams Ephs have a record of 29-7-9 in conference play to go with eight championships in the event's 18 seasons. This marks the most postseason success of any team in the NESCAC.
Tufts has record of 11-11-5 in the conference post-season, accompanied by three second-place finishes. The last time the Jumbos brought home a championship in women's soccer was in 2002 in a 3-0 win over Williams.
The winner of Saturday's game will advance to the championship to be played on Sunday at Williams. Two-seed Middlebury plays three-seed Amherst in Saturday's other semi-final.