Capping off a memorable weekend for Tufts athletics, sophomores Josie Lee and Mason Pulde earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors. Pulde, a goalie on the ice hockey team, is the first Tufts hockey player to win the award this season. Lee, a guard on the women’s basketball team, follows senior tri-captain forward Haley Kanner, who won the award for her performances on Jan. 17 and 18. That same week, Kanner won the honor for the U.S. Basketball Writers Association Div. III National Player of the Week.
On Saturday, Pulde was a revelation against the top-seeded Trinity Bantams in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Facing the second-best offense in Div. III and a team considered by many experts to be a top 10 program nationally, Pulde stopped 42 of the 43 shots he faced en route to a 2-1 victory. In the third period, he blocked all 25 shots he faced as the Bantams desperately tried to even the score. The upset secured the Jumbos their first ever NESCAC semifinal appearance. In his first year as Tufts’ starting goalie, Pulde has posted a .914 save percentage and has given the program optimism after it failed to reach the postseason the past two seasons.
Following the injury to senior tri-captain guard Hannah Foley in the first half of Tufts’ 53-40 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Williams, Lee stepped up, scoring eight points and corralling six rebounds off the bench. Against second-seeded Bowdoin in the NESCAC Championship game the next day, Lee recorded her first collegiate career start. With the Jumbos struggling offensively in the first half, Lee notched nine points to help the Jumbos to a 28-22 lead. Lee ended the game with a stat sheet that mirrored her clutch all-around performance. Playing a career-high 35 minutes, she finished with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals as the Jumbos defeated the Polar Bears 68-52 to win their second consecutive NESCAC Championship. While the Jumbos were considered a lock for an at-large bid before the postseason began, the victory clinched a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball Tournament.
Both athletes will be back in action this weekend. Pulde will look to continue his excellent season in a semifinal matchup against second-seeded Amherst on Saturday. If the Jumbos win, they will compete the next day for the NESCAC Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament. Lee and the Jumbos return to the court on Friday as they take on the Pine Manor Gators in the opening round of the NCAA Div. III Women’s Basketball Tournament.