Jumbos miss National Championship game for the first time in five years

Graduating senior defenseman Tlyer Olney leads offense during a game against Williams at Bello Field on April 5. Seohyun Shim / The Tufts Daily

For the third time this season, the Jumbos fell to the Wesleyan Cardinals in the third round of the NCAA tournament, 17-8. The first quarter saw Tufts quickly fall behind 4-0, and the lead ballooned to six points at the half. The Jumbo offense never got off the ground, unable to score more than three points in any quarter to catch up. As a result, for the first time in five years, the Jumbos will not be playing in the NCAA Championship Game as the team finished 13-6 on the season

The Jumbos had a tumultuous season, opening with a new head coach, Casey D’Annolfo (LA ’06), and a historic 11-game win streak. They went on to lose the remaining four games of the regular season.

The Jumbos assembled a decisive win in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Tufts hosted Keene State in a 26-14 victory, which matched the program record for most goals scored in a game and ended Keene State’s 11-game win streak.

The Jumbos looked like their old selves, going up 7-1 in the first quarter. By the final quarter, the Jumbos held a 21-6 advantage, so a lot of players who don’t usually see playing time were able to come onto the field and make an impact.

In late April, Tufts entered the NESCAC tournament — which they have won for the last seven years — as the No. 5 seed in the hopes of claiming an eighth title. But that opportunity came to an end on May 6 as the Jumbos crashed out of the NESCAC tournament in the semifinals against the Wesleyan Cardinals. In under 10 minutes, Tufts accrued a six-goal deficit. This grew to 12 in the second quarter, and despite an 8-3 second half for the Jumbos including a seven-goal run, the game ended 17-12.

In the quarterfinals on April 29, the Jumbos overcame the Bowdoin Polar Bears 12-11 in a game that came down to the final seconds. The Jumbos were up 12-9 until the Polar Bears scored with 3:48 and 3:22 remaining to outlast the Jumbos for the win. Graduating senior attackmen Zach Richman and Michael Mattson and rising senior attackman Frank Hattler each scored a hat-trick to secure the win. 

It was a tense match-up, as Bowdoin had claimed a 19-15 victory over Tufts only three days earlier. On April 26, the Jumbos trailed for more than three quarters despite an early lead and could not make up the lost ground.

The three other losses on the season all came against conference opponents. On April 15, Tufts lost 21-15 to Amherst, followed by a 19-18 loss to Bates on April 18 and a 17-16  loss to Wesleyan on April 22. Two of the losses were frustratingly close, with Wesleyan’s winning goal coming with only 19 seconds remaining.

Despite the losses, the Jumbos boasted a spotless record for the first six weeks of the season, including six conference wins. In these 11 victories, the team recorded four games and scored more than 20 goals, and Tufts was the highest scoring team in the NESCAC for a good portion of the regular season.

Rising junior attackman Danny Murphy was named to the NESCAC All-Conference First Team after recording 51 goals and 38 assists. He was also awarded NESCAC Player of the Week and Div. III North Offensive Player of the Week honors after registering 17 points in a pair of wins against Williams and Hamilton.

Fellow rising juniors, defenseman Arend Broekmate and attackman Ben Connelly, were both named to the NESCAC second team. Connelly has tallied 30 goals and 17 assists for the Jumbos this season, including three fourth-quarter goals against the Bates Bobcats in their hard-fought 19-18 loss. Broekmate has started all 18 games for Tufts this season, has grabbed the third-most ground balls on the team after sophomore face-off specialist Henry Hollen and leads the team in most caused turnovers at 27.

Connelly attributed some of these successes to the entire team.

“Especially with Tufts, we play such a fast paced offense that you can’t be on the offensive end and not have a part in the play,” Connelly said. “I wouldn’t say that it was anything individual that [Broekmate, Murphy and I] did. It was more of a recognition of the team’s effort.”

In the net, rising junior goalkeeper Ben Shmerler has split the time with rising senior goalkeeper Robert Treiber. The two were competing with each other for the highest save percentage in the conference for the majority of the regular season. Shmerler is now second in the NESCAC with a 57.2-percent save rate and Robert Treiber has dropped down the rankings due to the difficult second-halves that the Jumbos had in their four regular season losses; he sits at 52.5 percent.

Hollen has taken the vast majority of face-offs for the Jumbos this year, and is ranked third in the NESCAC with a record of 248-457.

This season, the program is graduating 10 seniors including an especially strong defensive unit. Graduating senior co-captain defensemen Tucker Mathers and Tyler Olney and senior defenseman Tyler Carbone all play with long poles. Tyler Carbone and Olney both played in all 23 games in their sophomore and junior seasons, and started all games their senior season.

On the offensive end, Richman has 46 goals and three assists. He had a breakout season his junior year, tying the record for most goals in a game with eight against Williams and going on to score 58 total on the season. Mattson has emerged in his own right this season, scoring only six his junior year but 51 this year. Graduating senior attackman Lucas Johnson has scored 22 goals and recorded 17 assists for a total of 36 points. Graduating senior attackman Austin Carbone looked ready to dominate the NESCAC with six goals and five assists in the first two games of the season but has remained sidelined with an injury since then.

“From day one, [the seniors] were very welcoming to our class. They stood out as leaders,” Broekmate said. “I think this class did a really good job of embodying what it meant to be on Tufts Lacrosse. They had been waiting their turn and did a very good job of leading us this year.”

The year’s graduating class were on the team for the back-to-back national championship wins and worked hard to lead the team to an NCAA tournament run in their senior campaign.