MANHEIM, Pa. – Senior co-captain Gigi Tutoni, junior Rachel Hamilton and sophomore Beth Krikorian all scored to help Tufts field hockey defeat Johns Hopkins 3-1 in the NCAA Tournament "Final Four" Saturday afternoon at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex.
With the win, the Jumbos (19-2) advance to the NCAA Championship Game for the fourth time in program history. They will face the winner of the other national semi-final between Middlebury and Rowan, which is being played at 2 pm today. The NCAA Fional will be held on Sunday afternoon indoors at the Spooky Nook Complex starting at 1 pm. With the loss, Johns Hopkins finishes its season with an 18-3 record.
Starting the first half, both teams possessed the ball well, as there was back-and-forth movement in each end. With the game being played indoors on AstroTurf, it was difficult to connect passes early on because of the quicker surface that both teams weren't accustomed to. A highlight of the Jumbos' season has been their defensive play, which was a key factor in the first half of this contest. Tufts did not allow a single Blue Jay shot in the entire 35 minutes of play.
Led by senior Issy Del Priore, Tufts made if difficult for Johns Hopkins to create any separation. Freshman Sophie Schoeni played the middle of the field well, while senior co-captain Fallon Shaughnessy got the Jumbos out of their own end with crisp passes. Junior Brigid Gliwa, sophomore Melissa Manzello and freshman Marin Waddington stretched the field and locked down Blue Jay leading scorer Izzy Thompson.
In a defensive stalemate, offensive opportunities were hard to come by. Junior Rachel Hamilton for the Jumbos ran the field and created quality chances in front of Blue Jay goalkeeper Jodie Baris. Towards the middle part of the half, momentum heavily favored the Jumbos while the pressure started to mount on the Blue Jays' side. This pressure led to a Johns Hopkins turnover, which transitioned to the first penalty corner of the game for the Jumbos. Averaging nearly 11 a game, this has been a staple of the Jumbos' offense. Junior Marguerite Salamone inserted the ball to the top of the circle to a waiting Krikorian, who ripped a shot right side of the goal past Baris for a 1-0 Jumbo lead in the 13th minute.
As the half started to close, the Jumbos almost extended their lead. Freshman Gillian Roeca and Tutoni had quality chances in front of the net, but were unable to capitalize. The Jumbos had advantages of 4-0 in shots and 2-0 in corners through one half.
Johns Hopkins came out with energy in the second half of action. A little over six minutes into play, their pressure created their first penalty corner. Abby Birk received a pass towards the left side of the circle. She lofted a shot towards goal that was deflected chest-high in front by Sarah Matyas past Jumbo freshman goalkeeper Andie Stallman to tie the game in the 42nd minute.
Momentum started to shift in favor of Johns Hopkins, while the Jumbos couldn't get any clean looks at goal. The Blue Jays' defense was firm, making it hard for Tufts to advance past midfield. Johns Hopkins continuously applied pressure in the Jumbos' end, causing Tufts head coach Tina Mattera to call a timeout.
After the timeout, the Jumbos were a different team. Tufts controlled the ball well and seemed to have forgotten about before. Shaughnessy, who was all over the field, helped give the Jumbos a 2-1 advantage shortly after the stoppage. At midfield, Shaughnessy sent a wonderful pass to the corner to a running Tutoni, who gathered the pass and worked her magic on the end line. Creating space, she sent a pass to the middle to Hamilton who one-timed it for the goal in the 53rd minute.
Less than two minutes later, the Jumbos struck again. In the circle, Salamone lunged at the ball in traffic, tipping it past Blue Jay defenders in front to Hamilton. She put a shot on goal from point-blank range that was stopped by Baris, but dispersed to a waiting Tutoni who knocked it in for a 3-1 Jumbo lead. That's how the score would remain, as the Jumbos wouldn't surrender another goal. Stallman had a big save with under two minutes left in regulation against midfielder Katie McErlean from the Blue Jays.
Both teams finished with a total of seven shots, while the Blue Jays' had five penalty corners compared to the Jumbos' three. Baris had three saves in the loss while Stallman had two in the win.
On Sunday Tufts will attempt to win its second NCAA title. Coach Mattera led the 2012 Jumbo team to the national championship. Tufts also played in the championship game in 2008 and 2016.
Written by Athletic Communications Intern Ryan Servant