Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
MEDFORD, Mass. – Emily Games netted five goals and dished out two assists to guide the Tufts women's lacrosse team to a 17-13 victory over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on Saturday afternoon at Bello Field in an NCAA Third Round game. Tufts will face York (Pa.) in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight at Bello Field at 4 p.m. Both teams will be seeking their first Final Four appearance in program history
With the victory, Tufts improves to 18-2 overall and recorded its sixth NCAA Tournament win in program history. Following the setback, TCNJ ends its season with a 14-6 record and conclude a year in which it qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the 34th straight season.
TCNJ's Kathleen Jaeger got the scoring going early in the game with a goal off a free-position attempt to give the Lions an early lead. Games responded less than a minute later with a free-position goal of her own to even the score. Jaeger then found the Lions' leading goal scorer, Alex Fitzpatrick, who put the ball in the back of the net to allow TCNJ to regain a one-goal edge. Colette Smith went on to create a great chance on goal for the Jumbos after the Fitzpatrick goal but was denied by TCNJ senior goalie Miranda Chrone. In what continued to be a fast-paced game, Tufts' Cecily Freliech found the back of the net in a man-up situation to tie the game at 2-2 with 24:47 left in the first half.
Games, the Jumbos' leader in points this season scored the next two goals off free-position shots to give Tufts a two-goal advantage. Fitzpatrick and Erin Harvey responded for the Lions with a goal apiece within a two-minute span to tie the game back up. Smith netted the next two goals of the game as both teams continued to make mini-runs on one another. The first Smith goal came off a nice pass from games and the second goal gave the Jumbos a 6-4 edge. NESCAC Player of the Year Dakota Adamec extended the Jumbos' run to three goals with a shot that beat Chrone.
Tufts goalie Audrey Evers and Chrone each made key saves following the Adamec goal to keep the score at 7-4. TCNJ Olivia Cleale ended the Jumbos run with a goal to cut the deficit to two. After a converted clear, Tufts' Annie Sullivan found a cutting Maddie Norman, who finished the pass by rifling the ball into the back of the cage to push the lead back to three goals. Fitzpatrick scored a man-down goal off a pass from Jaeger and Tufts responded with a connection from Games to Sullivan to take a 9-6 lead. Kirsten Grazewski connected with Catherine Lawliss, to push Tufts' lead to four goals. Freliech and Smith closed the half with a goal apiece as the Jumbos took a 12-6 lead into halftime. Tufts held TCNJ scoreless over the final 10:28 of the first half and allowed no shots on goal during that stretch.
Games opened the second half with another free-position goal to take a 13-6 lead less than a minute into the second half. The Jumbos offense continued to attack the net, but Games and Gabby Vinci had shots denied by Chrone to keep Tufts from extending the lead. Cleale rewarded her goaltender for making those two saves with a pair of goals within a minute of each other to cut the deficit to five goals. Lawliss responded with a goal off a nice left-handed pass from Smith. Jaeger then scored the contests next two goals, the first after attacking the net and the second on a free position shot to get the Lions within four goals.
The Lions defense continued to slow down the Jumbos and extended their run to three unanswered goals off a man-up goal from junior Kasey Donoghue and got as close as three goals from the lead. Grazewski broke through the Lions defense and earned a free-position attempt with 11:25 remaining. She was able to beat Chrone to push the lead back up to four goals. Cleale then found Donoghue, who netted a goal to again get within three goals of the Jumbos. Games scored her fifth free-position goal of the game with 7:06 remaining to extend the lead to 16-12. Lawliss and Norman had great chances to push the lead to five, but again Chrone made a pair of saves. Cleale and Delaney traded goals in the final four minutes of the game and the Jumbos went on to win 17-13.
Smith netted a hat-trick and dished out an assist. Grazewski tallied three points with a goal and a pair of assists. Freliech and Lawliss each contributed two goals respectively. Sullivan, Delaney, Norman, and Adamec each scored a goal for the Jumbos as well. Lily Baldwin won a team-high five draw controls while Hedy Veith led the defense with two caused turnovers and two ground balls.
Cleale led the Lions balanced offense with four goals and two assists. Jaeger netted three goals and dished out a pair of helpers. Fitzpatrick also recorded a hat-trick. Donoghue scored two goals and Harvey had the other TCNJ goal. Lion senior defender Abby Flager won five draw controls and caused two turnovers. Chrone recorded 13 saves.