Introduction of 2012 Field Hockey Team, presented by Kate Donovan J84 – Field Hockey, Lacrosse, Basketball, Squash, Diving - 2019 Inductee
You could feel the momentum building. You could really sense something special was coming in the years leading up to the 2012 season. In the five previous seasons, Head Coach Tina Mattera led the Tufts field hockey team to a combined 76-18 record and 4 NCAA tournament appearances. During that stretch, they made two Final Fours (one of which Tina missed because of her appendix!), and they narrowly missed winning an NCAA championship after a 3-2 double-overtime loss to Bowdoin in the national championship game.
In 2012, a confident and talent-laden roster got off to a bit of an inauspicious start, losing their season opener 5-2 on the road at Middlebury. After the loss, Coach Mattera remembers lying in bed thinking she was failing to reach her team, that she was going to get fired and that she would need to start looking for another job.
As it turned out, Coach Mattera couldn’t have been more wrong. The loss was a nice wake-up call, and the gritty Jumbos responded by winning their next 14 games in a row, including multiple 1-goal games and three tough overtime wins over Trinity, Amherst and Connecticut College.
The Jumbos did suffer another setback along the way when they lost to rival Bowdoin in the semifinals of the NESCAC tournament. This was a cause for concern because, with limited at-large NCAA berths available, some wondered if the Jumbos would receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
Fortunately, a bid for the NCAA tournament was forthcoming…and thee Jumbos certainly made the most of it. Much like their response to their season opening loss at Middlebury, the team rallied together after the Bowdoin loss. The Jumbos kicked it into another gear, they wouldn’t lose again.
After crushing Castleton 8-0 in blizzard conditions on Bello Field, the Jumbos traveled to William Smith and defeated their hosts 4-2 in the Sweet 16. Next, in their Elite 8 game, Tufts avenged their NESCAC tournament loss with a come-from-behind 2–1 win over the Bowdoin Polar Bears. With that win, Tufts advanced to the program’s third Final Four.
The site of the Final Four that year happened to be back at William Smith. So for a second weekend in a row, the Jumbos piled on the bus for the 6-hour trip to Geneva, New York. Fortunately, their lucky and personable bus driver, who Tina thinks was named Peggy, canceled her other obligations that weekend just so she could drive the Jumbos to victory. Apparently, the team kept Peggy awake with 60-ounce jugs of coffee and hundreds of Dunkin’ Munchkins.
In their national semifinal match, the Jumbos were matched up against a talented DePauw University team. Dakota Sikes-Kielp (pronounced “Kelp”) and Rachel Terveer scored for the Jumbos, and that was plenty of offense for goalie Brianna Keenan and the defense. The Jumbos shutout DePauw 2–0 to advance to the NCAA championship game.
The following day, the Jumbos would face the #2-ranked Red Hawks from Montclair State. The 22-1 Red Hawks got on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute of the game. The Jumbos were no strangers to adversity, however, and this resilient bunch answered a few minutes later when first-year Hannah Park scored the equalizer. And shortly before half-time, Hannah Park scored again to give the Jumbos a 2-1 lead.
Comfortable all year with 1-goal leads, the stalwart Tufts defense held the Red Hawks scoreless in the second half, and the Jumbos defeated the Red Hawks 2-1 to win the national championship.
During that historic 2012 season, Coach Mattera led the Jumbos to a 19–2 overall record and was named National Coach of the Year.
The team’s landmark win against Montclair State was the 1st-ever women’s NCAA team championship in the history of Tufts Athletics and only the second overall. The 2012 field hockey championship, along with 2010 men’s lacrosse national championship, were ground-breaking for Tufts Athletics, and they blazed a path for the 9 other NCAA championships that have followed.
After the championship game, Co-Captain Lia Sagerman commented: "To win a national championship has been a dream for of all of us and is a testament to what a great team this is. It has truly been the definition of a total team effort and perseverance. We had to earn every win this season and to get to this final game and come away with the W was the perfect ending."
Well, we hope tonight will add to that perfect ending.