Women's Soccer Uses Strong First Half to Hold Off WPI, 2-1

SOMERVILLE – The Tufts University women's soccer team earned a 2-1 victory over WPI in non-conference action on Thursday afternoon at Kraft Field.

Junior Sophie Lloyd has tallied goals in back-to-back games.

The Jumbos improve to 3-1-0 on the season while the Engineers suffer their first loss of the season and are now 4-1-0.

Tufts jumped on the attack early as two strong opportunities came through in the first five minutes of play. Sophomore Lily Sykes sent a pass from the middle of the field to the right sideline for junior Hannah Isenhart. Isenhart sent a ball into the box for classmate Sophie Lloyd who chipped it back for senior Izzy Moore who fired a shot on goal from about 20 yards out. A similar play happened just minutes later as Lloyd drove down the right side and found freshman Madeleine Pero for a shot on goal.

The following opportunity in the sixth minute resulted in the Jumbos getting on the board. On a corner kick, the ball deflected to Pero outside the top left of the box. Pero threaded a pass to Lloyd who capitalized on a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper for her third goal of the year.

WPI would respond with an opportunity of their own rather quickly as a strong shot on goal from about 20 yards out by Sofia Orrico forced Tufts freshman Hayley Bernstein into action to make the save. From that point late in the sixth minute all the way until the 22nd minute, the Jumbos would control the pace and continue to apply pressure. The best opportunity for the Jumbos to extend their lead came in the seventh minute as junior Liz Reed made a quick cut to the middle after pushing down the right sideline. She took one step out of the cut and fired a strong shot on goal that was saved. Reed then won possession from a punt and sent a ball forward to Lloyd. Her shot would be saved as well. During this span, the Jumbos also earned five corner kicks.

The Engineers did manage to back down the Jumbos and earn an opportunity midway through the first half. A corner kick by Leah Beauton found Ellie Patten on the back post and her header shot was saved. Just a few minutes later, Josie Kim fired a shot on goal from about 20 yards out that was saved. All this was leading to a counter by the Jumbos. In the 43rd minute, freshman Claire Wilkinson forced a turnover in the attacking zone and drove with the ball to the left side of the box. She quickly looked over her shoulder and saw sophomore Sophia Wallach crashing towards the goal. The pass appeared just out of reach, but Wallach slid and put the play home for the second goal on the day.

For most of the second half, the teams were countering each other. When one side appeared to have an opportunity, strong play by both backlines negated the chances. Jump forward to the 74th minute when WPI earned free space with strong passing and a strong cut towards the goal by Kristen McCrea. She was fouled inside the box, earning herself and the Engineers a penalty kick. McCrea converted with a shot that went into the top left of the goal and cut the lead to one.

The Jumbo defense locked down from that point and did not allow any strong opportunities for WPI. They even created their own as a ball was sent forward from the back line to Wilkinson who fired a shot from just outside the box, but it went high. From there, the Jumbos would play the clock and bleed time until the final horn and walk away with a 2-1 victory.

Bernstein earned the win, making six saves on seven shots on goal. The freshman is now 3-1-0 on the season. Her counterpart, Mandy St. Germain, made 10 saves on 12 shots on goal in the losing effort. She is now 4-1-0 on the season.

The Jumbos fired 21 total shots in the contest compared to seven for WPI. Tufts also earned more corner kicks than the Engineers, 9-2.

Tufts is back in action on Tuesday at Brandeis. They are scheduled to start at 4 pm. WPI is right back at it as they host Rhode Island College on Saturday. They are slated to start at 6:30 pm.