GENEVA, N.Y. - Tufts fell 1-0 Saturday at William Smith College in the second round of the NCAA Division III Women's Soccer Tournament after a hard-fought 108-minute game from both sides.
|Emily Bowers made several fatastic saves to keep the Jumbos within striking distance|
Tufts was taken out of their comfort zone early in the game as William Smith was able to control the ball out of the gate and place a shot on net in their first possession. The Herons opened up the game in the same fashion that the Jumbos traditionally do, with an all-out aggressive attack to trap the ball in their offensive side of the field.
William Smith produced one of their best opportunities just two minutes into the game with a through ball, leaving Jumbo goalkeeper Emily Bowers as the last line to stop a fast break. Bowers quickly committed to stopping the charge, coming way out of the net and blocking the shot. She then chased down the rebound nearly 20 yards out of net, diving and stealing it from a forward to end the threat.
The Jumbo defenders settled in and recovered after a shaky start. Tufts' backline did not allow any more quality opportunities for the rest of the half, and they adjusted to the Herons' offense, cutting off angles and anticipating passes. Kylie Metcalf played well in her fifth straight start in the backline, wisely waiting for her chance to strike and deflect a pass. Junior defender Sarah Maloney also played as well as she could, filling her typical role of vocal leader, while clearing double-digit balls for the defense in the first half.
As the defense played better, extra possessions allowed Tufts' offense to settle in. The Jumbos worked several times to gain possession deep in the box, resulting in two first-half corners, before the teams entered the break tied 0-0.
It seemed Tufts had taken control of momentum when the second half opened up, with the Jumbos taking a 6-1 shot advantage in the first ten minutes. With head coach Martha Whiting making key second half adjustments, the field of play seemed much more open for Tufts, finding passes that weren't there in the first half. Tufts offensive leaders Liz Reed and Sophie Lloyd had engaged in several touch-and-go plays which resulted in Tufts keeping persistent deep pressure in the second half.
The Jumbos just couldn't convert past Herons senior goalkeeper Veronicia Romines, who made several impressive saves by always moving her feet. Romines and Bowers stole the show in a back and forth game where the teams were trading offensive punches, as every great offensive move was met with a brilliant save. Bowers finished regulation with seven saves, while Romines saved nine shots as the teams entered overtime in a stalemate.
Overtime play resembled much of what was seen in the second half, with lots of up-and-down play resulting in a plethora of opportunities for both offenses. Tufts was regularly producing shots, but the aggressiveness left the window open for the Herons to flip the field. The fast-paced offensive game was bound to end with a goal. With the second overtime winding down, William Smith's Sheila McQuillen scored the difference-maker on a chip shot from about 20 yards out in the 108th minute, advancing the Herons into the "Sweet 16."
The Jumbos did not go down without a fight, as they placed nine of their 16 shots on goal while producing five corners. Four different Jumbos managed to fire three shots during the game. Bowers played an excellent game allowing just the one goal on 12 shots faced. Merilyn Hinrichs led the way offensively for the Herons with four shots, while Romines played spectacular in net, making nine saves for the shutout.
Tufts finished the season with an 11-6-2 record out of the very challenging NESCAC, after picking up a win in the first round of the NCAA tournament. William Smith will play the winner of tonight's Amherst and MIT game next weekend in the round of 16.
Written by Athletic Communications Intern Garrett Kerr