Nov. 8, 2009

Courtesy of The NESCAC

HARTFORD, Conn. – Junior midfielder Jess Perkins (Barrington, R.I.) scored a pair of goals in the first half that helped her team a 3-0 lead at the break, and the second-seeded Tufts Jumbos held on for a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Trinity in the finals of the 2009 NESCAC Field Hockey Championship Sunday afternoon on Sheppard Field. Tufts wins the NESCAC crown for the first time, after falling in the league finals at home last fall, 1-0, against Bowdoin.

The Jumbos avenged a 2-1 loss in overtime to the Bantams during the regular season to improve to 16-1 with its sixth straight overall triumph, while the Bantams fall to 15-2 with the loss in their first-ever NESCAC finals appearance.

Tufts jumped on the Bantams immediately, scoring just 1:17 into the contest on a well-executed penalty corner opportunity. Perkins received the ball outside the top of the circle and passed to senior co-captain midfielder Amanda Roberts (Wenham, Mass.) on her right before darting back into the circle to receive a return feed from Roberts and quickly shoot past Bantam sophomore goalie Gina Dinallo (West Hartford, Conn.) for the game’s first goal. The Jumbos continued to generate scoring chances during regular play and on four other first-half penalty corners, while the Bantams managed just one shot in the first 18 minutes before the first of several rockets from the top of the circle by Bantam junior midfielder Robyn Williams (Bulawayo, Zimbabwe) was saved off the leg of Tufts sophomore goalie Marianna Zak (Concord, Mass.) with 11:30 left before the half. The Bantams offense picked it up after that and nearly tied the score again moments later, but Zak stopped three consecutive Trinity shots on an ensuing possession.

Perkins struck again on a penalty corner, converting this time on an assist by senior co-captain Margi Scholtes (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) with 2:41 left in the half, and Tufts brought a 3-0 lead into intermission when junior forward Tamara Brown (Annandale, Va.) slapped in a pass across the cage from right to left by senior forward Michelle Kelly (Downington, Pa.) with 21 seconds on the clock.

The Jumbos maintained their lead and the momentum for the first half of the second stanza, but Williams broke the Trinity scoring drought with a shot from the top of the circle on a Bantam penalty corner with 12:33 remaining in the game. Bantam sophomore Payson Sword (Princeton, N.J.) initiated the corner to earn the assist, and tallied a second helper on a similar play with 9:22 left on the clock that pulled Trinity to within a goal at 3-2. Sword passed out to Bantam junior forward Christy Bradley (Wellesley, Mass.), who stopped the ball for Williams to blast past Zak and into the goal. Tufts defense held the Bantams off the rest of the way, however, as Zak made a key save on a shot from the left wing by Trinity senior co-captain forward Carrie Wolcott (Hamilton, Mass.) at the two-minute mark. Sword, Bradley, and Williams nearly tied the contest on the same play as the second goal with 1:15 remaining, as Williams’ shot made it through the defense but bounced wide left of the cage. Tufts kept possession for the final minute of play. Zak finished with eight saves and Dinallo had four of her five stops in the second half.

Quarterfinals - Sunday, November 1 at Higher Seeds
at No. 1 Trinity 2, No. 8 Connecticut College 1
at No. 2 Tufts 2, No. 7 Wesleyan 0
No. 6 Bowdoin 3, at No. 3 Amherst 0
No. 5 Williams 2, at No. 4 Middlebury 1

Semifinals - Saturday, November 7 at Trinity
at No. 1 Trinity 2, No. 6 Bowdoin 1
No. 2 Tufts 3, vs. No. 5 Williams 0

Championship - Sunday, November 8
No. 2 Tufts 3, at No. 1 Trinity 2