Thursday, November 10, 2005

Samuelson is Player of the Year, Whiting Coach of the Year

MEDFORD - The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) announced its all-conference Women's Soccer team on Thursday, and the Tufts University Jumbos were very well represented.

Senior tri-captain Ariel Samuelson (Newton, MA/Newton North) was named NESCAC Player of the Year, the first women's soccer player in Jumbo history to do so, while coach Martha Whiting was selected as Coach of the Year for the second time.  Sophomore midfielder Martha Furtek (East Falmouth, MA/Falmouth) joined Samuelson as a First Team selection, while senior midfielder Lydia Claudio (Woburn, MA/Open Bible Academy) and sophomore defender Joelle Emery (Bedford, NH/Derryfield School) garnered Second Team honors.

Samuelson, who leads the Jumbos in goals (12) and total points (27), is tied atop the conference for the best mark in each category.  Several of her goals have come at crucial times, as the senior leads Tufts with three game-winning goals, tied for the second-best NESCAC mark.  Samuelson was named NESCAC Player of the Week on September 19, after a record-tying three-goal effort against Middlebury to lift the Jumbos to a 3-0 shutout of their conference foe. She scored eight of Tufts' 15 goals in NESCAC regular-season games.

"This has really been a breakout year for Ariel," Whiting said. "After playing two years in the back, it took her a season to get her rhythm back at forward. She scored some big goals for us this year, including three game-winners in NESCAC play."

Furtek is amongst NESCAC's best for the second year in a row, recognized as a First Team selection this year following her 2004 Second Team honor as a freshman.  The midfielder notched two goals (both game-winners) and three assists for the Jumbos, with seven total points on the season.  Her 40 shots are second on the team.

"Martha is one of the most amazing athletes I've seen come through our program," Whiting said. "Her natural ability along with her tireless work rate make her stand out every time she steps on the field."

In Second Teamers Claudio and Emery, the Jumbos have a well-deserving senior and an up-and-coming sophomore. Tufts, Bowdoin and Colby each had four players named among the 23 individuals voted on to the two teams by the conference's coaches.

Claudio notched two goals and two assists on the season for Tufts, the fourth best Jumbo mark in each category. With one of the strongest legs in the league, Claudio scored both of her goals on penalty kicks. She was also a physical presence for Tufts in the middle of the field.

"I'm so happy for Lydia," Whiting said. "Unfortunately, her career has been riddled with injuries.  This is the first year where she has been pretty much 100-percent and has been an impact player at center midfield all year."

Emery was a key component to a Tufts defense that allowed just 0.79 goals per game, the second best conference mark.  A versatile player, the defender also managed to tally one goal and one assist for the Jumbos. Her lone goal of the season was the game-winner against Wheaton, the top team in New England entering the match.

"Jo leaves it on the field every time she plays," Whiting said. "She is an extremely consistent defender with the ability to score goals on set pieces."

Whiting, in her seventh year as head coach, led Tufts through a record-setting season in which the Jumbos put together a program-best 11-game unbeaten streak, including a 10-game win streak.  A 1993 Tufts graduate, she was last recognized as NESCAC Coach of the Year in 2002.

Tufts won the NESCAC regular-season title with a 6-2-1 NESCAC mark (11-2-1 overall), earning a first-round bye and the right to host the conference tournament.  The Jumbos defeated Colby College, 2-1, to earn a berth into the conference championship match against Bates on Sunday.  The Bobcats came away with a 2-1 victory in two overtimes. 

Despite the loss, the Jumbos earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and will host an NCAA Division III Tournament regional this weekend (Nov. 12-13). The weekend's action pits Tufts against Johnson & Wales University (13-6-1) at 11:00 AM, followed by Bates (13-3-1) against Eastern Connecticut State University (12-5-2) 40 minutes after the conclusion of the first match.  The second-round match between the winners will be played at 1:00 on Sunday.