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Thursday, November 8, 2007

WOMEN'S SOCCER READY TO MAKE FIFTH NCAA TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE AT HAMILTON

MEDFORD -- The Tufts University women's soccer program has established itself to the point that anything short of an NCAA Tournament berth is a disappointment. The Jumbos will make their fifth NCAA Tournament appearance overall, and the fourth under Coach Martha Whiting, on Saturday when they play a first round game against Emmanuel College. Hamilton College in Clinton, New York is the host site, and the Continentals will play Moravian in another first round game.

Tufts and Emmanuel will play the second game on Saturday, with an approximate 1:30 pm starting time. The winner will face either Hamilton or Moravian in the second round on Sunday at 1:00 pm.

The Jumbos earned an at-large berth into the NCAA's with a 12-3-1 record. The season featured an eight-game winning streak as the team vied for first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). They finished in second with a 7-2 record. In the conference tournament, after battering Connecticut College 6-0 in the first round Tufts was eliminated on penalty kicks against Bowdoin in the semi-final round.

Sophomore Cara Cadigan (Nahant, MA/Swampscott) has had a remarkable season for the Jumbos. After missing her freshman season in 2006 due to knee surgery, this fall she has set a single-season record for goals with 17. She has scored 10 game-winning goals and has goals in 13 of 16 games overall. Four times she has scored two or more in a game. Her 39 points overall (with five assists) are two shy of the Tufts single-season mark.

The Jumbos also have a strong veteran presence with senior co-captains and All-Conference performers Martha Furtek (East Falmouth, MA/Falmouth) and Annie Benedict (Millburn, NJ/Millburn), along with classmates Lauren Fedore (East Lansing, MI/East Lansing), Rebecca Abbott (New Orleans, LA/Benjamin Franklin), Jessie Wagner (Sudbury, MA/Lincoln-Sudbury), Joelle Emery (Bedford, NH/Derryfield School), Julia Brown (Newton, MA/Newton North). Those six and junior Maya Shoham (West Hartford, CT/Hall) played for the 2005 Jumbo team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament Final Four for the second time in the program's history.

The 2007 season has also seen the emergence of sophomore Ali Maxwell (Exeter, NH/Phillips Exeter), who leads the team with seven assists and has scored four goals for 15 points. Sophomore Fanna Gamal (Albany, CA/Head Royce) has also been productive with two goals and five assists. Sophomore Whitney Hardy (Truckee, CA/Truckee) has seen action in all 16 games, making eight starts. Starting goalkeeper Kate Minnehan (Hopkinton, NH/Hopkinton), who has a 0.80 goals against average, is another member of a strong sophomore class. First-year Sarah Nolet (Los Altos, CA/Los Altos) has been a regular from the start and classmate Geneva DeGregorio (Whately, MA/Frontier) has played in every game.

Tufts hosted the Final Four in 2000 and lost in the final seconds of the championship game to College of New Jersey. In all, Tufts has a 9-4-3 record in NCAA play. Since earning their first berth in 1998 under Coach Bill Gehling, now the Athletic Director at Tufts, the Jumbos have been invited four times since 2000.

Neighbors in Greater Boston, Tufts and Emmanuel will travel to upstate New York to meet. The Saints, members of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, are 17-2-2 overall and won their conference tournament. The Jumbos are the most experienced team at the regional. Host Hamilton College of the Liberty League and Moravian College of the Landmark Conference, along with Emmanuel, each earned their second NCAA berths.

Whiting earned the 100th victory of her coaching career and has an outstanding 100-40-12 mark in her ninth season with the Jumbos. She is a 1993 Tufts graduate and former team MVP as a goaltender.

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