It’s the NCAA Final Four for Field Hockey

Jumbos score once to defeat Skidmore College and advance to national semifinals
Tufts celebrates after winning the NCAA Field Hockey Quarterfinals against Skidmore on Nov. 13. The Jumbos will face Salisbury in the semifinals this Saturday. Photo: Anna Miller
November 14, 2016

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The Tufts field hockey team is headed to the NCAA Final Four after defeating Skidmore College, 1-0, in the NCAA Championship Quarterfinals at Ounjian Field on Nov. 13. The Jumbos scored 3:30 into the game and made it count.

Tufts (18-2) will face Salisbury University in the NCAA semifinals at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, on Saturday (Nov. 19) at 2 p.m. Head coach Tina McDavitt Mattera’s team will be making their fourth appearance in the Final Four,” and their first since 2012, when they won the national championship.

“It was great to get a goal so early,” Mattera said. Looking ahead to the semis, she noted, “We’re going to have our eye on the prize, and we’re really determined this year. We’re going to have to play our best hockey to win.”

The Jumbos came out fast against the Skidmore Thoroughbreds, earning a corner two minutes into the game with Skidmore sophomore goalie Elizabeth Coughlin making a save on a shot by Tufts junior Celia Lewis. Tufts immediately received another corner, and Coughlin stopped a succession of shots by junior Mary Travers.                         

The Jumbos came through after a third corner opportunity. During a scrum in front of the goal, junior Mary Kate Patton passed to sophomore Gigi Tutoni, who put the ball into the cage with 31:30 on the first-half clock.

Minutes later, Travers maneuvered to break in toward the Skidmore goal, but Coughlin charged off her line to break up the play. The ball squirted to Patton, but her shot was deflected wide.

After withstanding the opening pressure down just 1-0, the Thoroughbreds began to even play. They put their first shot on goal at the 19-minute mark, an attempt by sophomore Gabby Hyman that was saved by Jumbo junior Emily Polinski.

The Thoroughbreds later cleared a Tufts corner attempt at the other end to create a scoring opportunity of their own. Freshman Miranda Davenport found junior Seeley Fancher in close, and Polinski kicked the shot aside.

The Jumbos gained some momentum back late in the period and earned a corner as time expired. Tufts had a 12-2 advantage in shots and 5-0 in corners for the first 35 minutes, but led only 1-0.

The first half of the second period produced little offense by either side until Tufts earned a corner with 23:20 on the clock. Nothing materialized, and a second Tufts corner two minutes later saw junior Erin Sanders just miss finding Tutoni open at the left post.

Skidmore had the better of the play over the next few minutes and earned their lone corner of the game with eight minutes remaining in regulation. However, the ball hit a Thoroughbred foot during the play to give Tufts possession.

The visitors pulled Coughlin for an extra attacker with 3:57 remaining, and when Tufts was whistled for a green card, Skidmore had a two-player advantage. While they had strong possession for a few minutes, they did not attempt a shot, and time expired on their season.

Tufts finished with a 19-4 advantage in shots for the game and 7-1 on corners. Coughlin had six saves for Skidmore, while Polinski finished with two for the Jumbos.

The other teams to advance to this weekend’s Final Four are Babson and Messiah. They’ll face off in Geneva, New York, on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Contact Paul Sweeney, Tufts’ sports information director, at paul.sweeney@tufts.edu.

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