The Tufts men’s lacrosse team picked up three crucial wins over spring break, remaining undefeated with a 6–0 record (3–0 NESCAC) and moving up four spots in the national rankings to No. 3. On March 17, Tufts defeated Colby at home, 20–6, to record its second conference win of the season. A week later, the Jumbos hit the road again to take on the Trinity Bantams. In a back-and-forth affair, Tufts edged Trinity, 16–14, to pick up its third NESCAC win. Tufts then beat SUNY Cortland, 16–15, the following day in double overtime thanks to seven goals from senior midfielder and co-captain Frank Hattler.
Tufts came out roaring against Colby (3–3), taking a 10–0 advantage with five minutes to play in the second quarter. Junior attacker Danny Murphy added all three of his goals and two of his three assists in the Jumbos’ early barrage. Tufts also went 3-for-4 in man-up opportunities in the first half, with goals from senior attacker Griffin Johnson, Hattler and sophomore attacker Matt Treiber. The Mules scored for the first time with two minutes left in the first half on a goal by sophomore midfielder C.J. Hassan, but the visitors responded immediately with an unassisted goal by sophomore midfielder Nick Shanks for an 11–1 halftime lead.
After a Colby goal, Tufts scored four consecutive times to close the third quarter, opening up a 15–2 gap. The Mules scored four times in the fourth, but the Jumbos had long since secured the victory. Tufts first-year midfielder Evan Cunningham picked up his first collegiate goal in the fourth quarter and had a game-high six ground ball pickups. First-year midfielder Bryce Adam also added a goal for the Jumbos, starting behind the cage before twisting around his defender and firing a shot into the net to record his fourth score of the season.
Senior attacker Andrew Seiter, Treiber, Shanks and Hattler all scored two goals apiece. Junior midfielder James Firpo, junior midfielder Henry Hollen and Cunningham combined to win 17 of 29 face-offs, and senior Robert Treiber allowed just two goals in his 45 minutes guarding the net.
Tufts fell behind quickly against Trinity (3–4), with the home team taking an 8–4 lead in a back-and-forth first quarter. Trinity sophomore midfielder Ben Ferrucci scored the first goal of the game less than a minute in, but Murphy quickly responded to even the score, 1–1. After Trinity sophomore midfielder Andrew Collins scored a goal at the 9:07 mark, Hattler fired back to tie it up at 3–3. The Bantams pulled away with three consecutive goals midway through the quarter. Shanks then responded with a goal, but Trinity tacked on two more in the last 90 seconds to take an 8–4 lead.
In the second quarter, Shanks and first-year midfielder Garrett Samuelson scored within a minute of each other to draw Tufts within two. Trinity junior attacker Ben Knaus quickly followed with his second of three goals. After the teams traded goals, Shanks scored with just six seconds left in the half to keep the Jumbos within striking distance, 10–8.
Tufts came out firing in the third, scoring five unanswered goals — four of them from the stick of junior attacker Ben Connelly — to take its first lead of the game. The Bantams responded, however, with three consecutive goals to tie the game, 13–13, going into the fourth quarter.
Tufts secured the win in the final frame, as Seiter’s two goals and a second from Treiber opened up a three-goal lead with only three minutes left, cementing the 16–14 victory.
“Trinity is a conference opponent,” senior midfielder and co-captain Cam Irwin said. “Coming into this game, we expected them to put up a dogfight. They’re very well coached and they play hard. We knew they were going to give us their best game.”
The following day, Tufts faced No. 14 SUNY Cortland (5–3) at Bello Field.
“Cortland is definitely a good team,” senior defender and co-captain Connor Lansdale said. “We knew that going in. Maybe our legs weren’t as fresh coming off of a game the day before, but we were ready after grinding out a tight win.”
Tufts burst out of the gate, taking a 3–0 lead with early goals from Connelly, Treiber and Murphy. Cortland responded with a four-goal run to take the lead, with three of the scores coming via man-up opportunities.
The Red Dragons extended their lead early in the second thanks to goals by junior midfielder Joey Panariello and senior midfielder Nate Beresovoy. After trading scores, the Jumbos netted three consecutive goals — this time from Hattler, Seiter and Murphy. Both teams scored once more before the end of the frame for an 8–8 halftime score.
Cortland came out hot in the second half, scoring four of the first five goals, including two from junior attacker Terrence Haggerty. With under three minutes left in the third quarter, Tufts went on another three-goal run to tie the score at 12.
The fourth period went back-and-forth, as Hattler struck twice and Murphy added a goal, while Cortland got received scores from senior long stick midfielder Trevor Pratt, Haggerty and junior midfielder Cam Laporta. Tufts trailed by a goal, 15–14, under the three-minute mark. With LaPorta off due to a cross-checking penalty, Hattler scored his sixth goal to send the game to overtime.
Neither team scored in the first extra period despite numerous close chances. Just over a minute into the second overtime, Hattler notched an unassisted game winner for the Jumbos. With two goals against Trinity and seven against Cortland, the Palo Alto, Calif. native was named NESCAC Player of the Week.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for Cortland because of our game the day before,” Shanks said. “We knew how they played going in, but at the end of the day, it comes down to [whether] we play our game and play it better than they do.”
On defense, Hollen picked up a team-high seven ground balls, while junior defender Brian Powers caused five turnovers.
“[The] defense played unbelievably well in the fourth quarter and overtime,” Shanks said. “Henry [Hollen] really stepped it up in the second halves of both the Trinity and Cortland games to start winning face-offs. Also, as a team, we did really well on ground-balls.”
Despite their six consecutive wins, the Jumbos still feel that they have a long way to go before any discussion of the postseason.
“We definitely have work to do,” Lansdale said. “We’re certainly getting wins, but there’s definitely offensive and defensive work that needs to be done. I like where we’re at, but we need to get that much better before May.”
That growth can begin on Saturday, when the team hosts NESCAC opponent Conn. College (7–1).
“Conn. College is No. 20 in the country,” Irwin said. “Another ranked conference opponent. They’ve got a great face-off unit, and they play a very different style from us. We like to run up and down the field, but they like to slow it down and play a possession-based game. So it’s all about having them play to our speed, instead of us slowing down to match them. This is one of the best Conn. [College] teams I’ve seen in my career, and we expect them to be very good and ready for us.”