Jumbos put on strong offensive display in win over Engineers

Junior midfielder Gabby Vinci possesses the ball in Tufts' game against MIT at Bello Field on March 10. Alina Strileckis / The Tufts Daily

The No. 12 Tufts women’s lacrosse team took on MIT (1–2) at home on Saturday, winning handily by a score of 21–10. The game came a few days after the team was scheduled to play Endicott, but last week’s harsh weather postponed that game until further notice.

Continuing a high-scoring trend from last week’s season opener (a 17–4 win over the Hamilton Continentals), the 21 goals that the Jumbos put up against the Engineers matched their season-high from last year. Tufts’ fast-paced action up and down the field has led the team to a high volume of scoring opportunities, as the team put up 48 shot attempts to MIT’s 25.

“We’re playing fast and moving the ball around pretty quickly,” junior attacker Dakota Adamec said. “Everyone has the lax IQ, and everyone has this connection that we’ve been trying to build over the last couple years. It’s finally being able to be showcased in the past couple games.”

The first half of the game saw lots of offense on both sides of the field as the teams found themselves tied 3–3 a mere four minutes into the match. The Jumbos took off from there, though, scoring eight straight goals to open up a commanding 11–3 lead. After a brief spell of back-and-forth action in the final minutes of the half, Tufts headed into the break up 13–7.

Despite being up by six, the Jumbos felt they let up a bit too much on defense in the final few minutes of the half. They came out of the break with renewed defensive intensity, giving up only three goals to the Engineers in the second half.

“We talked about stepping up our communications and defaulting to basic defenses and fundamentals [at halftime],” junior defender Hedy Veith said. “I think people went [into the second half] with that mentality and focused on the small things about defense, and I think that really helped out.”

Along with the defensive adjustment, Tufts again put together a potent offensive attack in the second half, scoring eight goals to bring its game total to 21. The scoring was very well distributed, with 12 Jumbos contributing a goal to the cause. The leading scorers of the afternoon were sophomore attacker Emily Games, junior midfielder Annie Sullivan and senior midfielder Caroline Nowak, all of whom notched three goals.

Team chemistry played a big role in Tufts’ offensive success, as well, with accurate passing a key factor. Despite the Jumbos’ control of possession throughout the game — underscored by their high volume of shots — they turned the ball over fewer times than the Engineers, with 20 to the visitors’ 25. Tufts also set up many of its goals with smart passes, recording assists on 12 of its 21 scores.

As far as the Jumbos’ defense goes, giving up just 10 and four goals to their first two opponents has them feeling optimistic about the rest of the season. The rise of the team’s younger players and defensive chemistry have been crucial in keeping the ball out of the Jumbos’ own net.

“I feel great about [the defense],” Veith said. “I think we’ve had some underclassmen step up for some holes that we needed to fill from graduating seniors last year, and they’ve done a great job. I think we’re really starting to find our groove with our defenders, as well as the midfielders that come down with us.”

The win gives Tufts a 2–0 record early in its 2018 season, with two impressive wins already on its résumé. That perfect record will be tested on Wednesday when the Wellesley Blue visit Bello Field. Wellesley is coming off a 14–13 overtime loss to UMass Dartmouth, so Tufts will likely have to deal with a team hungry for vengeance. With the way they’ve been playing so far, though, the Jumbos are confident they can handle the Blue, and any of their other opponents this year.

“When we play fast and enjoy the game, that’s when we play our best,” Adamec said. “Going into Wellesley, we’re still going to be trying a few different things — moving players around, seeing who works best where … and of course trying to carry the energy and the fast play that we all know we’re capable of playing — into the game on Wednesday.”