Four Jumbos graduate after mixed season

Rising senior midfielder Caroline Nowak defends during Tufts' 16-8 win against Claremont-M-S on March 15. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

Unless they are granted an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the Jumbos will have finished the 2017 season with an overall record of 10-6, 5-5 in the conference. At the beginning of the season, graduating senior quad-captain Olivia Veillette noted that this was a transition year for the team after graduating both top scorers and a key defender the year before.

“We did lose some very valuable players, but we also gained a ton of freshmen,” Veillette told the Daily in an email. “And the freshmen definitely seem very confident out there on the field and I know that the rest of the girls are very confident and comfortable playing with them too. It doesn’t feel like they’re freshmen out there.”

As the rest of the season showed, those first-year players and other underclassmen stepped up big for the team this year providing big impact throughout the year. Rising sophomore attacker Emily Games led the team in scoring with 49 goals on the season and rising junior attacker Dakota Adamec was second in goals scored with 35. After not only leading Tufts in scoring but leading the NESCAC in scoring, Games was selected for the All-NESCAC first team and was also named NESCAC Rookie of the Year. With 11 first-years, all of whom saw game time this year and six that scored at least once, the team appears to be set up with an influx of talent for the coming seasons.

Their potential shone through in a few big moments this year. A 21-0 win over Castleton University at home on a chilly day in March marked the Jumbos’ first shutout win since 1996. It also demonstrated the offensive power across the roster as 14 different players scored en route to their victory.

Five games later, Tufts had another key moment in its season, as the team defeated SUNY Cortland 13-11, ending Cortland’s 83-game home winning streak. Though Cortland was ranked No. 9 at the time, on the back of five goals from graduating senior attacker Kate Mackin, Tufts built and maintained a lead early on, leading to a major out-of-conference win for the Jumbos.

Heading into the NESCAC tournament over the weekend of April 29 as the No. 6 seed, the Jumbos had a locked-in mindset, hoping to make some noise despite their 5-5 conference record during the regular season. Adamec described how the players’ practice regimen shifts slightly during preparation for the postseason.

“Not that game plans change immensely, but it’s really more of a focus on what can each individual player do to make the team better,” Adamec said. “Instead of having a group focus [in practice for NESCACs], it’s an individual focus.”

However, in their last game — a NESCAC championship quarterfinal match-up against Trinity — the Jumbos were defeated 19-10. Trinity’s offense appeared to be too much for Tufts during many parts of the game, as Trinity jumped out to a 6-0 lead just over 10 minutes into the first half and scored 12 goals on just 17 shots in the second.

Veillette explained that despite the Jumbos’ strong push toward the end of the first half, they could never recover from their early deficit.

“We let them come out strong and get a run on us in the first 10 minutes of the game. In the remaining [19] minutes they didn’t score a single goal so we were able to bring the score back to 7-4 at halftime, but unfortunately, we just didn’t convert in the second half,” Veillette told the Daily in an email. “They beat us in ground balls and draw controls, which forced us to play significantly more defense.”

Veillette also noted the particular strength of the NESCAC conference this year as an important factor in the growth of the team.

“The NESCAC competition this season compared to past years is the strongest it’s ever been,” she said. “It used to be that Middlebury and Trinity were the top two strongest teams that not many other NESCAC schools could keep up with, but this year there was a solid group of 5-6 teams with solid talent and representation in the national rankings.” 

The team graduates four seniors this year, all of whom were the captains this season: attackers Mackin and Caroline Kingsley and defenders Veillette and Casey Briody. All four were key players for the Jumbos this season, playing in and starting in most of the games.

Veillette said that her time on the team has been invaluable, with some of her teammates now her best friends.

“Everyone also loves the sport so much and it’s awesome to see how hard we all work for each other everyday,” she said. “I still stay in touch with the alumni, and I know I’ll be following this team for years to come. After an entire year of being a senior and captain, I’m so excited to see what else this team will do and be able watch them throughout their lacrosse careers.”