Women's Soccer Comeback Falls Just Short in 3-2 NCAA Loss vs. Virginia Wesleyan

EWING, N.J. – Tufts women's soccer played in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Virginia Wesleyan University on a cold Saturday afternoon at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township. The Marlins scored three times in the first half to take a commanding lead. The Jumbos chipped away and scored once in each half, but were unable to make the comeback and took a 3-2 loss in their first NCAA game since 2007.

Emma Ranalli scored in NCAA first round appearance off direct kick

Virginia Wesleyan started off the scoring 10:40 into the game, as junior forward Brooke Adamchak passed the ball on the ground off a corner kick to sophomore forward Alex Davidson who chipped it over Tufts goalkeeper Emily Bowers to put the Marlins up 1-0. Then at the 26:58 mark, freshman forward Mia Meinhardt passed the ball to Davidson who flashed across the middle of box and one-timed it past the diving Bowers to put the Marlins up 2-0 with her second goal of the game.

With 3:46 left in the first half, junior co-captain and All-NESCAC 2nd team midfielder Emma Ranalli took a direct kick from 30 yards out on the left side of the field and sent it into the top section of the goal just over the outstretched arms of sophomore Marlin goalkeeper Alicia Zamora to get the Jumbos on the board with the score of 2-1.

However, as time was expiring with only 22 seconds left in the first half, junior forward Kennedy Skala scored on a ball that scooted away from the Tufts defense. She was in a one-on-one situation with Bowers who was the only defender left to protect the net. Skala hesitated and took a shot that entered the goal in the top right opposite corner to extend the lead to 3-1 in the first half.

At the end of the first half, Tufts had taken four shots and Virginia Wesleyan took five with three of them finding the back of the net.

At the 48:24 mark early in the second half, Marlin junior midfielder Julia Downing took a shot from outside of the box on target but the All-NESCAC 1st team goalkeeper Bowers made a one-handed save pushing the ball just over the crossbar to keep Virginia Wesleyan from scoring.

At 62:10, Tufts junior midfielder Alessandra Sadler had control of the ball off of a corner kick set for a scoring chance. Sadler dished it into the middle of the box from the baseline on the right side  to teammate and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Sophie Lloyd who tapped it in for the score, her 11th goal of the season. The Jumbos cut the Marlin lead to one with the score being 3-2.

With 13:50 left in the second half, junior Emily Taylor stole the ball at midfield and passed it along to sophomore forward Marli Hayward. She dribbled and wound up for a shot on goal, but Bowers dove at her feet and corralled the ball that seemed destined to find the net to keep it a one-score game.

The Jumbos had scoring opportunities late in the game. At 79:29 into the contest, Sadler dribbled down the right side of the field and sent the ball deep into the box to Lloyd who headed it at the net but Zamora was there to make the save. With only 53 seconds remaining in the game, sophomore Sarah Maloney gathered the ball off a deflected pass from Ranalli and took a shot that soared over Zamora and bounced off the crossbar straight down, but did not penetrate the goal line.

Bowers (10-6-3) made six saves in her first NCAA tournament appearance and Zamora (15-4-0) made five saves for the Marlins in the first-round win.

The two teams were tied in shots taken with 16, but the Jumbos had the edge in corner kicks 5-4.

The Jumbos' season came to an end with an overall record of 10-6-3. Virginia Wesleyan (15-6-1) will play The College of New Jersey on Sunday, November 12th at 1 p.m. The host Lions defeated Roger Williams 3-0 in the other NCAA first-round game at the site.

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Written by Colin Mason, Athletic Communications Intern