After a record breaking 11 wins to start the season, the Jumbos succumbed to back-to-back defeats at the hands of the Bates Bobcats and the Amherst Mammoths. In a heartbreaking 19-18 loss on Tuesday, Tufts conceded their No. 2 rank to undefeated Bates, and now sit at No. 3 nationally. After being tied for first in the NESCAC since the start of the season, the Jumbos fell to 6-2 in the conference, while the Bobcats top the leaderboard at 8-0.
On Tuesday at home the Jumbos gave up nine goals in the first quarter alone, going down 9-4 with five goals alone coming from Bobcat’s senior tri-captain midfielder Charlie Fay. Bates capitalized on both man-up chances in the first 15 minutes, and even added a man-down goal. The Jumbos were kept in the game thanks to senior attackmen Zach Richman and Michael Mattson, sophomore attackman Danny Murphy, and first-year midfielder Nick Shanks.
“When you’re playing the number one team in the [conference] you can’t go down 9-4 at the end of the first, and you can’t be down seven goals in the third quarter and expect to have a good chance to win,” coach Casey D’Annolfo said. “We dug ourselves a little bit too deep of a hole, and weren’t able to climb out of it. I thought we played really well for about two and a half quarters.”
In the second quarter, junior goalkeeper Robert Treiber traded spots with sophomore goalkeeper Ben Shmerler, and the teams went 4-4 before the half. The Bobcats scored an early man-up goal that Mattson answered, and then found the net once more before the Jumbos had a run of their own. Bobcats’ first-year midfielder Sean Clark was given a 30 second penalty for pushing, and the Jumbos utilized quick ball movement to finally find Richman, open in the middle right in front of the goal. Less than a minute later junior attackman Frank Hattler received a feed from Murphy and slotted the ball in from a low angle. Only 23 seconds after that, Murphy fired his own into the net after rolling the crease.
It seemed as though the Jumbos would continue to dominate the quarter, until a Bates player went down in the midfield and the game was disrupted for over 10 minutes as Tufts EMT’s tended to his fractured leg. After the player was driven away in an ambulance, the game resumed, but the Jumbos had lost their momentum and the Bobcats quickly scored twice to cancel out the Jumbos’ work.
“I thought that the game was just a game full of runs,” D’Annolfo said. “Obviously you never want to see someone get injured like that, but did it stifle our momentum? Probably.”
The Jumbos outscored the Bobcats in both the third and fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to tie or win the game. Richman and Hattler each scored a man-up goal in the third quarter, pushing Tufts to the top of the NESCAC in goals scored in man-up plays. In the final quarter, sophomore attackman Ben Connelly scored three goals of the six total scored. With just under three minutes remaining and the score at 19-18, the Jumbos put everything they had into tying the game. Despite finishing the game on an offensive possession, the Jumbos couldn’t tie it up, and the Bobcats rushed the field to celebrate their narrow win.
On Saturday, it was the Jumbos who secured the lead at halftime, but they were not able to maintain it through the second half, and the Mammoths eventually caught up and overtook. Tufts jumped out to a 4-1 lead early in the first quarter with a pair of goals from Richman, and one apiece from Murphy and Mattson, but the Mammoths evened the score at 5-5 by the end of the quarter.
The Jumbos generated a lead in the second quarter with Mattson scoring a trio of goals, Connelly netting a pair and Murphy and Richman grabbing one each to put the Jumbos up 12-8 at halftime.
However, the second half was a disaster for the Jumbos, and they only scored three goals to the Mammoths’ 13, to give up the game for a final score of 21-15. Mattson scored twice in the third quarter, totaling six through the whole competition, and the final goal was scored by sophomore defenseman Arend Broekmate. Meanwhile, Amherst senior attackman Chris Albanese netted six, including two man-up goals.
“We needed to continue to attack through all 60 minutes, so it wasn’t enough to play any amount of minutes less than that,” Mattson said. “We have to make sure we’re unrelenting in our pressure, and I’m confident that we will have the opportunity to do that, and will rise to that challenge throughout the rest of the year.”
Despite the two losses, it wasn’t all bad. Robert Treiber fired up the team late in the Bates game by pushing the ‘ten-man ride’ offense and carrying the ball up the field for the team. The face-off unit demonstrated consistency in its strong wing players, who fought for every single ground ball in order to create offensive opportunities.
“We like to say that [the face-off unit] has ‘dirty knuckles’ from picking up those balls in the grass,” Mattson said. “They are a really hard working group and this week was no different. As an offense we have them to thank for a great deal of our possessions.”
This weekend Tufts faces Wesleyan. The Jumbos narrowly defeated the Cardinals 13-12 last season.