Jumbos advance to NESCAC semifinals with win over Panthers

Tufts sophomore midfielder Nick Shanks runs past a defender in Tufts 19–11 victory against Bowdoin on April 25. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

After downing Bowdoin 19–11 in its regular-season finale, the No. 5 Tufts men’s lacrosse team cruised to a 16–12 win over Middlebury (9–7, 5–5 NESCAC) on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

Just one week after the Jumbos defeated the Panthers 13–10 on the road, the two teams met again in Medford to kick off postseason play. Third-seeded Tufts came out of the gates firing, scoring three straight goals in the first seven minutes of play. Junior attacker Ben Connelly accounted for two of the hosts’ early strikes.

Middlebury sophomore midfielder Frank Cosolito responded with an unassisted goal at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter to pull the visitors within two, but Tufts added three more goals to open up a 6–1 advantage.

After the Panthers scored with just 24 seconds left in the first quarter, the teams traded goals throughout the second. Senior attacker Andrew Seiter and junior midfielder John Cordrey netted for the hosts, but Middlebury took advantage of five Tufts turnovers to score three goals and enter halftime with a manageable 8–5 deficit.

The Jumbos responded in the second half, however, as Connelly scored a pair of goals just 31 seconds apart. Turnovers made the difference again, as Middlebury committed six in the third quarter to Tufts’ three. The Jumbos entered the final frame with an 11–7 lead after sophomore midfielder Nick Shanks scored with 2:44 remaining in the third.

The hosts effectively sealed the victory with a pair of goals to open the fourth quarter — one apiece from junior attacker Danny Murphy and Connelly. Middlebury got one back just inside the 10-minute mark, but Tufts then stretched its lead to 15–8 with another two scores. The Panthers struck four times in the last 3:19, but the Jumbos’ advantage was ultimately too much to overcome.

Connelly, the team’s leading scorer with 45 goals, netted five times to pace the Jumbos. Seiter and Murphy each added three, while sophomore goalie Mason Pollack made 13 saves in the win.

On Wednesday, Tufts wrapped up the No. 3 seed in the NESCAC tournament with a convincing 19–11 defeat of Bowdoin (8–7, 4–6 NESCAC) at Bello Field.

After the Polar Bears scored the game’s first two goals, the Jumbos registered eight of its next nine to open up an 8–3 advantage. The teams traded goals for the rest of the game, as Tufts snuffed out any semblance of a Bowdoin comeback. Murphy led the Jumbos with six scores and three assists, as Seiter and Connelly added four goals apiece.

With the win over Middlebury, Tufts will now face second-seeded Amherst (14–2, 9–1 NESCAC) in the semifinals of the conference tournament on Saturday in Middletown, Conn. When the teams squared off on April 14, the No. 4 Mammoths came away with a 20–16 victory at Bello Field.