Women’s soccer beats Tufts for first NESCAC championship
The 2005 NESCAC Champion Bates women’s soccer team
SOMERVILLE, Mass. — First-year forward Jen Marino (Methuen, Mass.) scored in the second overtime period to give the Bates College women’s soccer team its first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference championship on Sunday, in a 2-1 decision over top-seeded host Tufts University.
In an emotional, action-filled game before a vocal, bi-partisan throng at Tufts’ Kraft Field, the Bobcats (13-3-1) carried play for the majority of the game, particularly during the second half and overtime periods. Over and over, Bates made advances at Tufts’ defense and goaltender Annie Ross, but failed to find the back of the net. An eighth-minute goal by junior Jessie Gargiulo (Boxborough, Mass.) was followed by a 28th-minute own goal, credited to Tufts’ Ariel Samuelson, erasing Bates’ lead the rest of the way.
But with 6:18 left in the second sudden-death overtime period, from nearly the exact same spot as the own goal, Marino followed up on a free ball headed Ross’s way. The Tufts keeper failed to control the ball, and Marino capitalized with a volley inside the near post to seal the victory. The goal was Marino’s fourth of the season, and her first since Oct. 2.
That set off a raucous celebration where the goal had occurred, with Bates players and coaches exploding with joy, to be joined quickly by over a hundred Bates students and parents at the game.
An exuberant Bates head coach Jim Murphy found his voice after gathering the team in one last huddle on the field. “Today, the NESCACs. Tomorrow, the NCAAs!” he shouted hoarsely, and the players filled the air with their jubilant response.
The NCAA Division III playoff pairings, in which Bates is assured a spot, are due to be announced by Monday morning.
The Bobcats appeared ready to gain their first conference crown from the game’s start, controlling the ball and working the ball crisply from player to player. In the eighth minute, sophomore midfielder Molly Wagner (Longmeadow, Mass.) relayed a clearing ball from junior Becky Macdonald (Danvers, Mass.) with a deft ball to Gargiulo on the weak-side wing. Gargiulo carried a step past her defender and volleyed a perfectly-arced shot over the reach of Ross for the 1-0 lead. It was Gargiulo’s eighth goal this season.
But Tufts evened the score when Samuelson’s cross from the left wing was inadvertently deflected past Bates goaltender Nini Spalding (San Francisco).
An advantage in shots on goal and corner kicks in both halves for Bates underscored a virtuoso performance for the team. The Bobcats outshot the Jumbos 17-9, holding them without a shot after regulation, and collected five corner kicks to Tufts’ two.
The result also avenged Bates’ 2-1 double-overtime loss to Tufts on Oct. 1 in Lewiston, Maine.
Spalding collected five saves, compared to Ross’s nine, in front of a stout defensive effort led by Meg Coffin (Westford, Mass.), sophomore Ali Emery (Richmond, Vt.), and senior co-captains Jenna Benson (Watertown, Mass.) and Sara Abbott (North Marshfield, Mass.).