Tufts drops two games to top-20 opponents, shuts out Castleton over break

Junior midfielder Caroline Nowak defends during Tufts' 16-8 win against Claremont-Mudd-Scripps on March 15. (Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily)

Playing three games over spring break, the 3-3 Jumbos won one and dropped two. Despite losing two of their three games, both losses were close and against highly-ranked teams: No. 6 Trinity and No. 20 Colby. A single dominating win showcased some of the potential of the Jumbos’ new offense.

Tufts went on the road against Trinity on Saturday, falling 14-11 as Trinity mounted a comeback win. The Jumbos led 8-7 after the first half, powered by five goals from first-year attacker Emily Games. However, the Jumbos were outscored 7-3 in the second half as the Bantams won nine of 11 total draw controls and had three more shots on goal.

Senior quad-captain attacker Kate Mackin noted that the Jumbos fell into a lull during the end of the second half.

“We need to work on the draw, because draws are so important in lacrosse. You need to ball to score,” Mackin said. “So that’s something we will focus on this week.”

Both Mackin and sophomore attacker Dakota Adamec stressed that the team was happy with their performance in the Trinity game despite the loss.

“Coach [Courtney Shute] emphasized the fact that it may not have been a win, but we are very close to being very comfortable and trusting with each other, and that just comes with time,” Adamec said. “We are getting to the point in the season where everything is falling into place and we are making steps forward.”

Playing again at home on March 22, Tufts posted a dominating 21-0 win over Castleton University. 14 different Jumbos scored goals in this game, led by three goals each from Games and Adamec.

This was Tufts’ first shutout in 21 years, with the last one occurring on April 4, 1996 when the Jumbos defeated the Wellesley Blue 11-0. The contest also saw first-year midfielder Alison Moky score her first two collegiate goals.

15 of the 21 goals came in the first half. Additionally, Tufts scored three goals in the first minute and a half and had scored 10 goals just over 15 minutes into the game. 

“Defensive communication was working very well, no matter who was on the field, which shows that no matter what team we had, we really tried to improve and work together,” Adamec noted.

Castleton performed significantly better in the second half, holding off the Jumbos for 19 minutes before the first goal of the second half was scored. Nonetheless, the dynamic Tufts offense won 21 of 23 total draw controls and held a 40-1 advantage for shots on goal.

While the Jumbos are currently tied for only the No. 71 scoring offense in the nation for Div. III, a showing like this demonstrates what they can do with their new style of play this season. Adamec emphasized the energy that the Jumbos brought to this game as an important factor in their strong play.

“The mentality and the energy before the game was very very high in the locker room,” she said. “We had goals we set for ourselves to hit before the game. We wanted to have a positive and confident attitude coming onto the field.”

On March 18, Tufts fell 10-9 against Colby at home on Bello Field. The Jumbos fell behind early in this game, going into halftime with a four-goal deficit. Through much of the second half, the Mules continued to maintain their lead and with just over 14 minutes to play, they led 10-5. However, with 11:42 left, junior attacker Taylor Meek scored back to back goals just 22 seconds apart.

After the first goal, first-year midfielder Lily Baldwin won a ground control out of a Colby timeout, leading directly to another Meek score. This was followed by two free position goals from Adamec and junior midfielder Caroline Nowak, cutting the lead to one.

It was here that the Jumbos could have faltered, but the 15-minute defensive stand, along with a 22-18 overall advantage in shots on goal, demonstrated the poise with which the Jumbos played down the stretch.

“Our main problem in that game was not starting as fast as we wanted to, but one really exciting thing that came out of that game was we found out how resilient we were,” Mackin said. “We did not give up. In the second half, we were really excited about how fast we were able to score.”

Up next, Tufts will play at home against Conn. College (0-5, 0-3 NESCAC) on Saturday.