Tufts continues strong start to season with big wins over Colby, Trinity

Senior midfielder Caroline Nowak looks to pass during Tufts' 26–5 win against Wellesley on March 14. Ray Bernoff / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts women’s lacrosse team put together a string of impressive performances in its four games since a win over MIT on March 10, earning three victories and suffering one defeat. The Jumbos, tied for seventh in Div. III, now have a 5–1 record overall and a perfect record of 3–0 in NESCAC play while averaging over 15 goals per game.

In the six games the team has played, it has amassed 95 goals and tallied 44 assists. Tufts has dominated the circle so far this season, winning more draws than its opponent in every game. Junior midfielder Cecily Freliech notes that winning draws was a large focus of the team’s offseason work and is leading to many scoring opportunities for the Jumbos.

“We really worked on [draw controls] this fall,” Freliech said. “Our main quote is ‘win the draw, rule the world.’ [Winning the draw] sets everything up possession wise, and with the possession clock, that is huge this year. So, winning the draw … gets [us] another chance on attack because it is [a] fifty-fifty ball, and if we win that, we have a leg up in the game.”

On March 14, Tufts defeated Wellesley (0–8) in dominant fashion, with a final score of 26–5. Junior midfielder Annie Sullivan led all scorers with four goals, in addition to winning two ground balls and six draw controls for her team. First-year midfielder Catherine Lawliss added three goals and three assists, while junior attacker Dakota Adamec and senior midfielder Caroline Nowak each recorded hat-tricks of their own.

The Jumbos won 26 draw controls in all against the Blue. Sophomore midfielder Lily Baldwin continued her impressive work on the circle, matching her career-high in draw controls — set just one game prior — by grabbing ten. The Cincinnati native also netted two goals.

Tufts continued its winning ways on March 18 in conference play, taking down the reigning NESCAC champion, No. 19 Colby (5–3), 11–9, in Waterville, Maine. The Jumbos’ work on the circle saw them win 13 of 21 draws. Tufts benefited from a 5–0 run to close out the first half, opening up a 9–4 lead at the break. The Mules came out with energy in the second, though, rallying to score four in the opening 13 minutes to cut the deficit to two. However, Adamec scored with just under 14 minutes remaining and Tufts locked down defensively to secure the victory — the team’s first against Colby since 2014.

Sophomore attacker Emily Games, sophomore midfielder Maddie Norman, Lawliss and Adamec each contributed two goals to their team’s balanced offensive attack. Games led the Jumbos in assists, tallying three, while junior goalie Audrey Evers finished the day with 11 saves. Senior attacker Sasha Fritts led the way for the hosts with five goals, including three in the second half.

The Jumbos fell for the first time this season on March 21, when they faced the 11th-ranked Washington and Lee Generals (6–4) in Lexington, Va. While Tufts took an early 6–2 lead and topped its opponent in draw controls (13–8), the team was unable convert its scoring chances in the game’s latter stages. Meanwhile, Washington and Lee went on a 8-0 run that bridged the first and second halves to open up a 9–6 advantage. Despite a pair of late goals from Lawliss and Adamec, Tufts’ comeback effort ultimately fell short.

The Jumbos put up 40 shots, including 23 on goal, but only eight beat the Generals’ sophomore goalie Elliot Gilbert. Not helping matters was Tufts’ 1-for-14 mark on free-position shots. Lawliss and Nowak each scored two goals to lead the Jumbos, while junior defender Hedy Veith won four ground balls. In learning from the defeat, the team has slightly adjusted its offensive mindset, putting greater emphasis on high-quality shots.

“Our shots just really didn’t fall in that game,” Evers said. “I actually think [the loss] was really good for us going into the Trinity game, just to learn a lot from it, because even against Colby the previous weekend, we kind of had a hard time getting the ball in the back of the net in the second half. Because we came out on top, I think we didn’t look at it so critically; it could have been a one-time thing. Coming out of [the loss], I think our midfielders and attackers really did a great job adjusting to what had happened [against Washington and Lee]. It wasn’t about changing anything huge; I think it was really a mindset change. We always say ‘shooters shoot’ but we changed that to say ‘shooters score.'”

Saturday, in another conference battle, Tufts took down perennial NESCAC power Trinity (5–2) with a final score of 12–9. Adamec continued to perform impressively, notching five goals against the No. 9 Bantams. First-year midfielder Kirsten Grazewski, Lawliss and Games each added two assists to facilitate the Tufts attack, and Evers made her presence known in the crease, recording 10 saves. The team’s success was again buoyed by success on the circle, as Norman’s six draw controls powered Jumbos to a 14–9 advantage.

Not to be overshadowed by Tufts’ offensive successes in its strong start to the season is the work put in on the other side of the field. The Jumbos’ improved play on the defensive end has come from an experienced core of defenders, bolstered by the conversion of multiple midfielders into full-time defenders.

“We have two junior defenders, Maddy Schwartz and Hedy Veith, and they’ve had a ton of experience over the past three seasons,” Evers said. “Having the three of us kind of in the back, holding it down has been … a great starting point for the rest of the field. It was kind of challenging earlier in our careers … not really knowing what it’s like to be down in the game or how to have that composure, but its been really nice to finally have that confidence. We’ve also transitioned a few midfielders into defenders, so we have brought a ton of speed and athleticism into that end of the field. We’ve been able to move [the ball] really fast out of the defensive end and make really good stops.”

The Jumbos will take on the Endicott Gulls tonight at 7 p.m. in Beverly, Mass. Endicott is the reigning Commonwealth Coast Conference champion and enters the game with a 6–2 overall record. 


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