Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Tufts junior Emily Games netted a game-high four goals to guide the second-seeded Jumbos to an 11-8 victory over third-seed Wesleyan in the NESCAC Semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Kohn Field. Tufts will play the number one seed Middlebury at 1 p.m. in the NESCAC Championship game.
Following the win, Tufts improves to 15-1 overall and reaches the NESCAC Championship for the first time in program history. With the loss, Wesleyan falls to 14-3 overall and will have to await word on an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
The Jumbos recorded the first goal of the game less than two minutes into action when junior Maddie Norman netted a free position goal to give Tufts the early lead. Tufts senior Courtney Grygiel got two good looks on goal, but was denied by Wesleyan junior goalie Allegra Grant. The Jumbos found the back of the net again with 25:55 left in the first half when Games converted a free-position goal. Games then scored another free position goal a minute later to give the Jumbos a 3-0 edge. Cardinal senior Caitlin Wood recorded the team's first shot of the game but was denied of the goal by Tufts senior goalie Audrey Evers. Grygiel extended the Jumbos run to 4-0 as Tufts netted their fourth free position goal of the contest.
The Cardinal offense finally broke through the Jumbo defense as Wood scored a goal with 18:17 left in the half to cut the lead to three goals. Wood scored again two minutes later off a free-position shot to cut the deficit to 4-2. After each goalie recorded key saves, Tufts first-year Kathryn Delaney rifled a shot that beat Grant to push the lead back to three goals.
Wesleyan senior Abigail Horst had a shot hit the post and go wide within a minute of action after the Delaney goal. Delaney and Games earned free position attempts towards the end of the half, but Grant again recorded saves to keep the Cardinals in the contest. The Cardinals offense ended the first half with two unanswered goals from junior Abby Manning and first-year Izzy Powell to cut the deficit to 5-4 at the half. Wesleyan junior Julia Gretsky had a chance to tie it before the half with 0:10 left, but Evers made a nice save.
Grygiel opened the second half with a free position goal to extend the lead back to two goals. Tufts senior Annie Sullivan and Grygiel each had chances within the first three minutes of action saved by Grant. Jumbo sophomore Kirsten Grazewski then recorded the first assist of the game when she found Norman to take a three-goal lead less than four minutes into the second half. Horst came right back with a free position goal to cut the deficit back to two goals. Gretsky, Wood, and sophomore Kat Cucullo each had good looks at the goal after the Horst goal but were denied by Tufts first-year goalie Molly Laliberty.
Sullivan would then go on to score another Jumbo free-position goal to take an 8-5 lead with 19:04 remaining. Laliberty came up huge after the Sullivan goal with stops on shots from Gretsky and sophomore Johanna Copeland. Games went on to net a free position goal to push the lead to 9-5. Manning and Grazewski then traded goals in the next three minutes of action. Games scored her fourth goal of the afternoon with 6:31 remaining after junior Lily Baldwin won the draw control. Cucullo and Manning scored the contests final two goals, but Tufts went on to win 11-8.
Grygiel and Norman each contributed two goals for the Jumbos. Grazewski led the game with five ground balls while also recording a goal and an assist. Sullivan and Delaney had the other Jumbo goals. Laliberty recorded a team-high seven saves.
Manning led the Cardinal offense with three goals and an assist. Wood also contributed two goals. Cucullo had a goal and two assists. Horst and Powell each added a goal as well. Grant scooped up a team-high three ground balls and had 12 saves in the game.