A tough start to the season got worse for the 11th-ranked Tufts mens lacrosse team on Tuesday. After falling at home for the first time since 2009 at the hands of Hamilton, the Jumbos were unable to right the ship, losing away at NESCAC rival and 15th-ranked Conn. College, 16-15.
Losing is new to this group of players, as the two-game skid matches the teams regular-season loss total from last season. Still limited to only 20 players due to suspensions, the Jumbos failed to deliver a consistent performance against a team they beat 16-9 and 13-2 last year.
It definitely hurts to lose, whether its by one goal or by 10, senior midfielder Brian Ruggiero said. But were trying to take whatever positives there are and build on them. We need to get better every day, and as a team I think we certainly understand that.
Unlike in their first loss, the Jumbos started strong, despite playing through cold wind and a driving rain in New London. In ending the first half with four consecutive goals, Tufts took a 12-9 lead into halftime, three more than they scored in 60 minutes against Hamilton.
Senior midfielder Ben Saperstein and freshman John Uppgren led the first-half charge by each scoring three goals and adding one assist, and junior Jack McDermott opened the scoring in the second, pushing the Jumbo lead to 13-9.
After that goal, however, the offense went completely cold, and Conn. College picked up the attack.
Sophomore attackman Chad Sawyer scored three straight for the Camels, followed by two more from Andrew Freedman and Pat Leary, giving them the lead with 11:49 left to go.
The Jumbos fought back with goals from Saperstein and Uppgren midway through the fourth quarter to retake the lead at 15-14, but those were the last of the day for the Jumbos.
Sawyer scored his sixth goal for the Camels with a well-placed jump shot from the middle of the box that tied the game at 15 with just over four minutes to go, and senior Tyler Corcoran completed the victory for Conn. College with just under three minutes to play on a goal following a sharp groundball and assist from Freedman.
Another loss was certainly not the result Tufts had hoped for, especially after playing some excellent lacrosse in spurts against the Camels.
I thought as a team we competed tremendously, Ruggiero said. But in the end, we didnt get the job done, and thats all that matters.
There have been silver linings to the last two games, most notably from the freshman class. The group has already totaled 12 goals and is gaining valuable in-conference experience. Ruggiero made it clear, however, that so many new faces being forced into action is no excuse for losing.
It is great to see the guys step into important roles and have some success, but were all recruited here as lacrosse players and are expected to compete and win every time we step on the field, he said.
Tufts will take its 0-2 record into spring break as they travel to face No. 4 and undefeated Stevens Tech, which will be a massive early season test for the Jumbos as they return to full strength.
Coach Mike Dalys team isnt dwelling on its less-than-ideal start and is looking to the game at Stevens as a chance to get the season back on track.
Were learning from our mistakes, not making any excuses, staying positive and moving on, Saperstein said. Our focus right now is on Stevens Tech.