Jumbos continue undefeated start to season

Senior defenseman Cem Kalkavan and the Tufts defense held opponents to nine goals per game over break.

The men’s lacrosse team continued the undefeated start to its season Saturday with a victory over the Trinity Bantams at Bello Field. The Jumbos won by a score of 13-6 and in the process extended their record to 6-0.

The defending NCAA Div. III champion and No. 1 Tufts team has started its title-defense strongly.

The most recent win was a low-scoring affair, as the team surrendered only six goals on the afternoon.

Coach Mike Daly was impressed by his team’s defensive effort against Trinity.

“Our defense continues to do a great job for the team,” Daly told the Daily in an email. “They have been working extremely hard, and they continue to come together to play team defense. I have been very impressed with our tenacity on ground balls.”

The Jumbos allowed only 32 shots and forced 30 turnovers in the contest, and junior goaltender Alex Salazar notched 13 saves. Tufts also won 44 ground balls to Trinity’s 24.

On the offensive side, the Jumbos were helped by a break-out performance by junior midfielder Kyle Howard-Johnson. After entering the game with eight career goals, Howard-Johnson nearly matched that total with a whopping seven goals on the day.

In what was an 8-5 game in the third quarter, Howard-Johnson found twine three consecutive times to open up a more comfortable lead for the Jumbos. Overall, his seven-goal effort accounted for more than half of Tufts’ offensive output on the day.

Junior attackmen John Uppgren and Ben Andreycak each added two goals and an assist, while senior midfielder Peter Gill tallied one goal and three helpers.

The Jumbos played a total of three games over the week of spring break. Tufts topped the Colby Mules on the road March 14 by a score of 11-9.

The Jumbos also passed a major non-conference test on the road against No. 3 Stevenson March 17. Tufts came out with an 18-12 victory.

Daly enjoyed having the clash with Stevenson on the schedule, and he was impressed with his team’s effort in the win.

“Stevenson is a fun game to play in, just an amazing atmosphere.  That game is fast and physical, and it is always a great test for us.  We feel playing that game prepares us for our league schedule and certainly brings out the best in our team,” Daly said.

In the Stevenson contest, Uppgren tallied five goals and a pair of assists, and Howard-Johnson notched two goals and three assists. Andreycak and sophomore midfielder Zach Richman each had four points. Salazar made an impressive 19 saves.

Six games into the season, the team is in good form and has shown it is deserving of its No. 1 ranking. There are a lot of games remaining, while Daly is pleased with the team’s performance, there is always work to do and room to improve.

“Our team has been doing a great job navigating through the ups and downs of a lacrosse game and season. Our team has shown some great mental toughness in dealing with injuries, travel and weather. I am pretty proud of where we are right now, but it is day-to-day in this business. We have to continue to improve our focus and consistency,” Daly said.

Tufts plays again Tuesday, hosting the Western New England Golden Bears at Bello Field. Then the Jumbos will begin an important stretch of five consecutive conference games as they pursue a sixth straight NESCAC title.