MEDFORD, MA - After an evenly matched first half, Tufts hit their stride and showed why they are the top seeded team in the NESCAC, winning 5-0 over Williams. #1 seeded Tufts will move to the NESCAC finals tomorrow at home at Ounjian Field as they moved past the #7 seeded Ephs.
The Ephs, 10-8 on the season and 5-5 in NESCAC play, were coming off their first playoff win since 2009 as they upset the #2 seeded Bantams last week at Trinity. Tufts, 16-2 on the season and 8-2 in the NESCAC started their NESCAC tournament play last week with a 2-0 victory over #8 Bates at home. With the victory today, the Jumbos are one win away from their first NESCAC title since 2009.
Junior Celia Lewis contributed on two goals, including the assist on the game's first goal as she knocked on a corner started by junior Mary Travers and senior Annie Artz got a deflection past a sliding Margaret Draper for the goal at 32:14. Lewis later scored a goal at 54:39, right down the goal line to bring the score to 5-0.
Tufts junior Mary Kate Patton also notched two unassisted goals on the day, taking advantage on a breakaway at 38:48 to bring the score to 2-0 and scored again at 41:12 to bring Tufts up by three. On the fourth Tufts goal, sophomore Gigi Tutoni got around Eph sophomore defender Caroline Taverna to assist first year Marguerite Salamone at 43:13.
The Ephs came out of the gate strong, matching their opponents and controlling possession for much of the first half. Senior goalkeeper Margaret Draper had nine saves in the first half including seven saves in a three-minute flurry, stopping four penalty corner attempts by the Jumbos. Draper finished the day with 11 saves on the Jumbos'16 shots on goal.
The Jumbos displayed their defensive dominance on the day as the only Ephs shot on goal, an attempt by junior Maggie Shilling, didn't come until 68:59. Tufts junior goalkeeper Emily Polinski earned her seventh shutout of the year and enjoyed the backfield help that has allowed helped her to a 0.77 goals against average on the year.
The Jumbos led the Ephs in shots 23-7, shots on goal 16-1, and penalty corners 6-4. With their win, they will face the winner of #3 seeded Hamilton and #4 seed Middlebury tomorrow at noon in Medford, MA. The Ephs have been eliminated from NESCAC tournament play and their 2016 season has come to an end, after showing some impressive development and gaining their first playoff victory in seven seasons.
After the game, Eph head coach Alix Barrale noted "We played a strong first half and unraveled in the second. They have great speed and strong stick skills and we just were deflated after they got three quick goals." On the Ephs' strong season coming to an end, coach Barrale said, "the season was impressive. Our success did not always show up in the win column, but we improved greatly in all other categories."