After a year of achievement, triumph and at times heartbreak for Tufts athletics, the Jumbos finished eighth in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings for the 2017–18 school year. The Directors’ Cup, which ranks colleges based on their performance in up to 18 sports that must include men’s and women’s basketball and soccer, was won by Williams for the 21st time in the competition’s history.
For the Jumbos, the eighth-place finish is a slight dip from the previous two years. Tufts recorded top-five results in 2015–16 and 2016–17, finishing fourth and third, respectively. However, the Jumbos’ eighth-place finish out of 323 eligible Div. III schools maintained their streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes in the competition.
The Jumbos earned points in 14 out of a possible 18 sports last year. Top performers led the way, as the Jumbos received 427 points from their top two finishers in each of fall, winter and spring seasons.
Strong start in the fall
A year after winning the NCAA Div. III Championship, the men’s soccer team fell just short in the tournament this year, bowing out in the Elite Eight to Brandeis in extra time. Still, the result earned 73 points toward the Jumbos’ Directors’ Cup effort — tied for the highest mark of any Tufts team. The women’s cross country team contributed 72 points by finishing seventh at the NCAA Championships. The Jumbos’ seventh-place result topped all of their NESCAC rivals and was the second-best mark in team history.
Other scorers in the fall season included the women’s volleyball team, which put up 50 points for making it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, as well as the women’s soccer team, whose first NCAA tournament qualification since 2007 netted the Jumbos 25 points. Combined, the fall sports teams posted 220 points, which was good for 14th in the Directors’ Cup standings at the end of the season.
Winter season success
The Jumbos surged back into the Top 10 of the competition in the winter, as coach Carla Berube’s women’s basketball team advanced to another Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. Though the team came up short of avenging its championship loss to Amherst in 2017, it did match Tufts’ men’s soccer team with 73 points in the Directors’ Cup.
Meanwhile, the men’s swimming and diving team finished a historic year in seventh place at the NCAA championship meet — its best finish since 1982 — and earned 72 points for the Jumbos. Coach Adam Hoyt also led the women’s swimming and diving team, which contributed 30.5 points thanks to Anna Kimura’s (LA ’18) 12th place finish in the 200 breaststroke.
The winter season was capped off by the men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams, which finished 13th and 11th in their national meets, respectively. Combined, those marks earned Tufts 126 points and put the school’s total at 521.5 points, good for ninth in the Directors’ Cup standings at the end of the winter season.
Final spring charge
The Tufts men’s lacrosse team, led by coach Casey D’Annolfo (LA ’06), added 73 more points to the cause in the spring season thanks to its Elite Eight berth. The women’s tennis team provided 64 points in the form of an NCAA Regional Final appearance, falling 5–3 to MIT. Coach Cheryl Milligan’s softball team garnered 50 points with a NCAA Regional Final appearance against MIT, while women’s lacrosse tacked on another 50 with its second-round appearance in the NCAA tournament. Finally, a 42nd-place finish for the men’s track and field team at the NCAA Championships gave the Jumbos 29 points.
Tufts’ spring success cemented their overall standing in the No. 8 spot with a total of 787.5 points, a mere 14 points ahead of NESCAC rival Amherst. While the Jumbos suffered a slight drop from last year’s standings, their 2017–18 season was full of many historic matches and memorable moments. Tufts ranked as the third-best team in the NESCAC, demonstrating the competitive nature of its athletics program. It will have the chance to show off the strength of its programs as the race for the Directors’ Cup kicks off again this fall.