|Senior Nick Rhoads won 18 face-offs for the Jumbos
MEDFORD - Jumbos Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ), Kevin McCormick (Laytonsville, MD) and Beau Wood (Sherwood Forest, MD) scored three goals apiece as the top-seeded Tufts men's lacrosse team won 14-10 over eight-seed Amherst in a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal at a blustery Bello Field on Saturday afternoon.
Tufts (14-2) advances to host the conference semi-finals and final next weekend (May 5-6) at Bello. The Jumbos will play fourth-seed Connecticut College and #2 Trinity will face #3 Bowdoin in the conference semi-finals. The championship game in on Sunday. Tufts has now won nine straight overall and 30 in a row at Bello.
Amherst, which received a remarkable seven-goal game from sophomore Devin Acton (Sudbury, MA) on Saturday, finishes its season with a 9-7 record.
Tufts, which had defeated the Lord Jeffs 15-5 two weeks ago during the regular-season, looked like they were ready to run Amherst out of town again. The Jumbos led 4-0 after one period and 5-0 early in the second. Senior Geordie Shafer (Rancho Santa Fe, CA) scored twice in the first period and freshman Cole Bailey (Millersville, MD) had a goal and an assist to help Tufts to its early lead.
However, Amherst showed fight and rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the second quarter with a man-up goal by senior Evan Redwood (Lutherville, MD) and then four straight scores by Acton. The Jumbos were able to take a 6-5 advantage into halftime when McCormick scored with 0.6 seconds on the clock.
The teams went back-and-forth for most of the third. Lord Jeffs senior Alex Fox (Garden City, NY) had the first goal of the second half to tie the game 6-6 at 13:51. The Jumbos then scored a pair of goals six seconds apart as senior face-off man Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA) won a draw and scored at 12:32 for an 8-6 Jumbo lead. Acton then talllied goals a minute apart for Amherst and the game was tied 8-8 with 6:38 left in the third.
Tufts pulled away late in the third and early in the fourth. Wood and McCormick scored to close the third, and then Kirwan had a pair early in the fourth as the Jumbos went up 13-9 with 9:13 remaining in regulation. Tufts out-scored Amherst 5-1 from 6:04 of the third to 9:13 of the fourth to make the difference in the game.
Bailey was the team-high scorer for Tufts with two goals and three assists. Rhoads was sensational on face-offs, winning 18 of 24. Sophomore Kane Delaney (Brookeville, MD) led Jumbo defensemen with three groundballs. Sophomore goalie Patton Watkins (Chattanooga, TN) stopped 12 shots for the Jumbos.
Fox and sophomore Aaron Mathias (Ridgefield, CT) had a goal and an assist each for Amherst, while Acton added four groundballs to his offensive haul. Senior Will Reed (Riverside, CT) caused two turnovers and senior goalie Sam Jakimo (Woodbury, NY) made five saves before he was pulled in the fourth quarter.
Shots were an even 40-40 and Tufts finished with a 34-28 edge in groundballs. The Lord Jeffs netted three man-up goals while holding the Jumbos to 0 for 8 in extra-man opportunities.
Tufts is the two-time defending NESCAC champion.
Game Photos by Kelvin Ma, Tufts University