WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.- Tufts Women's Soccer fell to undefeated Williams College on Saturday 3-2 in a back-and-forth conference semi-final matchup. The host Ephs will play for the NESCAC Championship on Sunday.
|Junior defender Sarah Maloney scored her second goal of the year on a header.|
The first of two semifinals got off to a hot start, with a rematch of last year's NESCAC championship between fourth-seeded Tufts and top-seeded Williams. Heavy rain and wind added an extra dynamic to the game, opening up more scoring chances than usual.
The Jumbos came out of the gates fast, with their usual aggressive mindset, controlling the ball deep in Williams' end, generating four shots in just the first five minutes. Despite Tufts controlling the ball, just seven minutes into the game Aspen Pierson managed to get Williams on the scoreboard first with a blocked shot that trickled into the net. Senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers was forced to come out of the net to play a through-ball, but Pierson fired the rebound off a Jumbo and into the net.
Tufts' constant pressure would pay off in the 15th minute as sophomore leading-scorer Sophie Lloyd tied the game at one. Lloyd took a pass at the top of the box, turned and made a few fancy moves to free herself up from two defenders and net a sliding right-legged shot.
The Ephs would earn themselves a free kick in the 33rd minute. Victoria Laino would go for the net, and succeed as she tucked a bending shot into a minimal window in the top left corner of the net. Williams would not be done however, as they flipped the pressure back on Tufts when a skipping cross pass deflected off of a Tufts defender into the net with two minutes to go in the half. This put the Ephs up 3-1 going into the break.
As they have proven all year, the Jumbos would not lie down. Instead they cut the deficit to one just five minutes into the second half. Sophomore Hannah Isenhart wisely reset the offense by dribbling out of the box into the corner, turned and sent a gorgeous pass in front of the net. Sarah Maloney would out-jump everyone on the field, rising above for the header goal, her second of the year.
Tufts would go on to generate several more scoring chances, but could not convert them into points, leaving the final score 3-2 Ephs. The Jumbos out-shot Williams 17-15 on the game while producing nine corners to Williams' four.
Bowers made several big-time plays by stopping Williams forwards who found themselves alone with the goalie. Field conditions made staying in front of someone as a defender near impossible, however Maloney made her presence felt outside of her goal. A two-on-one break was disrupted when Maloney made a perfect slide tackle, blocking a point-blank shot for Williams. Offensively Tufts had a balanced attack with seven different players firing shots.
The Ephs were led by Pierson as well as Sarah Scire, each shooting four shots in the game. Goalkeeper Olivia Barnhill also made four saves.
Williams will play in the NESCAC championship tomorrow against the winner of Amherst and Williams, while Tufts will eagerly wait to see if an at large NCAA berth awaits them. The field will be announced on Monday.
Written by Athletic Communications Intern Garrett Kerr