The women’s lacrosse team is coming off one of their strongest seasons in a decade, finishing third place in the NESCAC with a record of 13–5 overall and 8–2 in conference. Thanks to the campaign, the Jumbos were at times ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation, and closed out their season at No. 13. Their third-place conference finish was only exceeded by a tie for second place in 2010 with a 6–3 record, and a first-place finish in 2009 at 8–1.
In May 2018, the Jumbos received a bid to play in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015, and they stormed through the first round with a 17–8 win over the Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham Devils. Unfortunately, the team lost the second part of the weekend doubleheader in a frustrating 12–11 loss to Franklin & Marshall in the second round.
Though the loss marked an end to Tufts’ season, it was by no means a disappointing run. Tufts overcame NESCAC opponents Bowdoin, Wesleyan and Trinity, all three of which tied for fourth place in the conference. The regular season 12–9 victory over the Trinity Bantams was noted as a highlight for the team due to the Bantams’ legacy as a Div. III powerhouse. In last season’s NESCAC tournament, the Jumbos faced the Bantams again in a closely fought match, but their opponent prevailed 12–10. Another big conference win for the Jumbos came against the historically strong Colby Mules, their first victory against the team since 2015.
Ten seniors anchor this year’s experienced Tufts roster, with all members of the senior class taking on a leadership role. The team also includes three Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) 2018 All-Americans in attacker Dakota Adamec, midfielder Annie Sullivan and defender Hedy Veith, all of whom are seniors. The same trio were also named to the NESCAC All-Conference team; Adamec earned Tufts’ first ever women’s lacrosse NESCAC Player of the Year award while Sullivan and Vieth earned second-team honors.
“Our senior class is one of our greatest strengths,” coach Courtney Shute said. “The power of the group has been an inspiration for the team the whole year, and is something that our underclassmen certainly look to. They each have really important but different roles that they fill, and we try to maximize each of their strengths and allow them to lead in a way that is unique to each person.”
Other notable members of the roster include junior attacker Emily Games, who was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year in 2017. Games was one of seven Tufts players named to the IWLCA 2019 All-Region team, along with Adamec, Sullivan and Veith, as well as senior goalkeeper Audrey Evers and junior midfielders Maddie Norman and Lily Baldwin.
A small Class of 2018 made up of three players make way for a first-year class with eight women. With the short Div. III preseason of barely over a month, the new additions to the team have had to mesh quickly with the returning team, but according to Evers, will have their chance to make an impact early.
“Two seniors had season-ending injuries early on [last season], so we only really had one senior on the field,” Evers said. “We’ve been able to have a lot of younger attackers ready to fill spots. Our defense and midfields will remain very similar, but we’ve just gained eight new really talented first-years which is very exciting.”
Though many first-years are considered midfielders now, as the season progresses each player will naturally gravitate towards more offensive or defensive roles. An added benefit of having a large group of seniors is that the pressure is reduced early in the season as the new players find their legs.
During the current senior class’ first year, there were only three seniors, so this year will be a contrast.
“There is a value to being a first-year and being able to learn from the older players while not having so much of the pressure on you,” Evers said. “That was one of the challenges our first year — so many of us were getting playing time but didn’t have the game sense, the speed of college lacrosse or the confidence to be a leader in those situations.”
A “play day” on Feb. 23 gave the team a chance to compete against numerous different schools such as Amherst and Trinity, and try out different lineups and styles of play. Up until then, the team had been confined to scrimmaging against each other, so the tournament-style day provided a much needed opportunity to gear up for the season opener.
Shute highlighted some of the team’s strengths that emerged from the day.
“I love our athleticism,” she said. “We are athletic and fast and we have great sticks. Those are phenomenal starting points for the game of lacrosse, so now we’re just working on meshing on both sides of the ball to try and figure out what the right combinations of people are on the field. I believe that we have 29 women on the team that can all help us at some point this year. There’s a lot to look forward to.”
The Jumbos will begin their season with several away games, starting with the Hamilton Continentals on Saturday at 1 p.m.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the “play day” on Feb. 23 only consisted of one scrimmage, but instead it was a series of scrimmages. Additionally, Adamec, Sullivan and Veith are all seniors, not juniors. The article has been updated to reflect these changes. The Daily deeply regrets these errors.