Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
EWING, N.J. – Virginia Wesleyan used three first half goals and held off Tufts to post a 3-2 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at regional host TCNJ in Ewing, N.J.
Virginia Wesleyan started off the scoring 10:40 into the game, Brooke Adamchak fed teammate Alex Davidson off a corner kick and Davidson chipped a shot over Tufts goalkeeper Emily Bowers to put the Marlins up 1-0. At the 26:58 mark, Mia Meinhardt passed the ball to Davidson who flashed across the middle of box and one timed it past the diving Bowers for her second goal of the game and give the Marlins up 2-0 advantage.
With 3:46 left in the first half, co-captain and All-NESCAC Second Team midfielder Emma Ranalli took a direct kick from 30 yards out on the left side of the field and sent it into the goal just over the outstretched arms of the sophomore Marlin goalkeeper Alicia Zamora to get the Jumbos on the board and slice the lead in half, 2-1.
However, with 22 seconds left in the first half, 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 fired a shot into the top right opposite corner to extend the lead to 3-1 in the first half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Marlin's Julia Downing took a shot from outside of the box on target but the All-NESCAC First 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, to cut the Marlin lead to one, 3-2.
With 13:50 left in the second half, Emily Taylor stole the ball at midfield and passed it along to teammate Marli Hayward. She dribbled and wound up for a shot on goal but Bowers dove at her feet and corralled the ball that was destined to find the net to keep it a one goal game.
The Jumbos had scoring opportunities late in the game. 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 the ball 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 cross the goal line.
Bowers (10-6-3) made six saves in her first NCAA Tournament appearance and Zamora (15-4-0) made five saves 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 will play The College of New Jersey on Sunday at 1 p.m.