Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – After falling behind, 2-1, less than five minutes into its NESCAC Semifinal game against Amherst College, the Tufts University men's lacrosse team responded with seven unanswered goals, and then withstood multiple runs by the Mammoths en route to a 20-12 win on Saturday afternoon at Jackson Field in Middletown, Conn.
Junior Danny Murphy finished with seven points for the Jumbos on four goals and three assists, while Ben Connelly (three goals, two assists) Andrew Seiter (four goals) and Frank Hattler (three goals, one assist) also starred for Tufts. Sophomores Colin Minicus and Matt Solberg each scored twice and tallied an assist, respectively, for Amherst, while junior Trenton Shore finished with a goal and two assists.
The third-seeded Jumbos (15-1, 9-1 NESCAC), who avenged their 20-16 regular-season loss to the second-seeded Mammoths (14-3, 9-1) on April 14, will now take on No. 5-ranked and top-seeded Wesleyan University (14-2, 9-1) in the title game of the NESCAC Tournament on Sunday at noon in Middletown, Conn. The Jumbos and Cardinals met once during the 2018 regular season, as Tufts earned a 14-10 victory in Medford, Mass.
Wesleyan defeated Tufts in the postseason twice last year, as it emerged victorious by a score of 17-12 in the semifinals of the conference tournament, and then posted a 17-8 win during the third round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. Amherst will look to earn an at-large bid into the national tournament, as the selection show will air on Sunday at 9 p.m.
On Saturday, facing a 2-1 deficit, Hattler knotted the game at 2-2 for the Jumbos with 7:31 left in the first. The squad kept coming, and Murphy was able to work around heavy defensive pressure with a nifty spin move, and then sent a pass to Seiter in front of the net. Seiter caught the low pass in traffic and immediately turned, burying a shot into the goal, which gave Tufts the lead for good at 3-2. The Jumbos took a 7-2 lead into the second quarter, with Connelly scoring with two seconds remaining in the first.
Seiter scored a hat trick during the 7-0 run, spanning between the first and second, as he put a finishing touch on the surge with 14:27 remaining in the second. The scoring play was orchestrated by sophomore Nick Shanks, who received the ball in stride on the right wing, and found Seiter cutting through the middle, as the senior standout beat Mammoths sophomore goalie Chad Simons top shelf.
Amherst was in desperate need of a spurt down six, and it answered the bell, scoring the next three goals, as the unit cut the lead down to 8-5. The run concluded with a goal by Solberg, who sniped a shot from just inside the attacking zone, while being tightly contested by a Jumbo defender.
The last goal of the first half was a tough one to swallow for the Mammoths, and had the potential to turn the complexion of the game around. Amherst, which was carrying all the momentum at that time, suffered a costly turnover right in front of its own net, and Seiter was once again the one to send the ball into the cage for the Jumbos, pushing the advantage back up to 9-5.
In the second half, Amherst quickly cut the lead down to two with only three minutes, eight seconds elapsed off the clock on goals by junior Jack Norton and senior Max Keeley. Tufts responded with four out of the next six goals, and Murphy gave the team a 13-9 lead with 5:54 remaining in the third. The Hauppauge, N.Y. native carried the ball down the right side of the attacking zone, and then abruptly made an aggressive move toward the net and netted a low shot with a great deal of velocity.
Mammoths junior midfielder Brogan Mahon trimmed the deficit to 13-10 with 2:07 left in the third, unloading with a drive from the left side. The Jumbos did not let the Mammoths get any closer, dominating the fourth quarter with a 7-2 advantage in goals.
Jumbos sophomore goalie Mason Pollack (12-1) earned the win in net, stopping 13-of-25 shots, while Simons (8-2) took the loss, finishing with 11 saves. Amherst made 19 turnovers, and Tufts was charged with 10, while the Mammoths led the ground-balls category, 42-32. Tufts held a slight edge in shots, 51-50, and recorded a 31-25 lead in shots on goals. Sophomore Dylan Finazzo led the way with a game-high 18 ground balls for the Mammoths.
Release courtesy of Wesleyan Athletics