November 18, 2009

Twin Peaks

Field Hockey and Volleyball advance in NCAA Division III Championships

Junior Amanda Roberts prepares to strike against Williams in the NESCAC semi-finals.

The Jumbo field hockey team advanced to the NCAA Division III Championship semi-finals for the second consecutive season with a 4-1 victory over Skidmore College in a quarterfinal game on  Nov. 15 at Bello Field.

Tufts, which improved to 18-1 on the season and is ranked fourth in the country, will play Salisbury University in the national semi-finals at Mount Holyoke College on Nov. 21.

Also last weekend, Tufts Volleyball won the NCAA New England Regional Bracket with a three-set victory over NESCAC rival Williams College. The Jumbos played an almost mistake-free match and emerged with victories of 25-13, 25-16 and 25-23. Tufts hosted the NCAA regional at the newly refurbished Cousens Gym.

Coach Cora Thompson’s team moves on to the NCAA Championship quarterfinals for the first time in school history. The Jumbos will travel to the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center in University Heights, Ohio, for the quarterfinals, which start Nov. 19; They will play Hope College, the Midwest champion.

Wielding a Big Stick

In the run-up to the NCAA semis, the field hockey team defeated Trinity College 3-2 on Nov. 8 to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship for the first time. With the victory, Tufts earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

The path to victory came with a win over MIT in the second round of NCAA play on Saturday, Nov. 14. Senior Michelle Kelly scored three goals to lead Tufts to a 5-1 victory on a rainy afternoon at Bello Field. For the second straight season, Tufts hosted the second- and third-round games in the NCAA tournament.

One of the team’s leaders this season has been junior forward Tamara Brown, who was named NESCAC Player of the Week on Nov. 2. In October, Brown became the all-time leading scorer in Jumbo history when she netted her 98th point in a 7–0 win over Colby. In the NESCAC championship game, she scored one of Tufts’ three goals; junior midfielder Jess Perkins netted the other two scores.

Tufts’ only loss of the season came on Oct. 17, a 2–1 overtime defeat to Trinity during Parents Weekend.

Spiking the Ball

“Our goals were to start out strong with our serve, play great defense and get a lot of touches on them,” said volleyball coach Thompson of the match against Williams. “They’re great hitters, so we knew we probably wouldn’t stuff block them a lot. We wanted to slow the ball down so that our defense would have a chance. I thought the defense played it perfectly. We were excited to be in the regional final, but just the right amount. You can’t ask for more.”

The Jumbos (31-4) turned the tables on a Williams team that beat them in straight sets in the NESCAC Championship match. It was the third year in a row that the Ephs had knocked the Jumbos out of the NESCAC tournament.

“It’s so exciting; it feels surreal right now,” Thompson said. “We’re a great group of athletes, and we have great senior leadership. They’re just refusing to lose, and I think that’s a great mentality.”

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