No. 3 men’s lacrosse remains undefeated through spring break

Junior midfielder Nick Shanks runs toward the goal in the second round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament on May 9, 2018. (Evan Sayles for Tufts University)

Most Jumbos soaked up the sun and saw friends and family over spring break, but for one of the undefeated sports team on campus, the week-long break was anything but. 

This week, the 54 players of the No. 3 nationally ranked Tufts men’s lacrosse team continued on their promising start of the season by amassing victories over Colby, Stevenson and Trinity College. The Jumbos start their season with an undefeated 8–0 record for the fifth year in a row.

On Saturday, the Jumbos closed out their lucrative spring break performance with a dominating 25–12 win over their NESCAC rivals, the Trinity College Bantams (4–3). Fresh off of Tuesday’s 19–7 win against Stevenson, the Jumbos bolstered momentum and hadn’t lost yet coming into the Trinity game. Meanwhile, the Bantams had struggled to find their footing in the notoriously tough NESCAC conference, coming into the game with a record of 4–2, losing to Bates and Williams — their only conference games of the season.

The Bantams were similarly unable to find success against the Jumbos, who are currently in a tie with Amherst atop the NESCAC. The Jumbos opened the game with a devastating offensive strike against the Bantams. Sophomore attacker Bryce Adam scored two goals in under three minutes and, with another goal by senior attacker and co-captain Ben Connelly, the Jumbos started the game with a 3–0 run. Although this run was interrupted off of an unassisted goal by Trinity senior attacker Ben Knaus, the Jumbos continued their dominating stretch, outscoring the Bantams 9–1 within the first 16 minutes of regulation.

This seemingly unchallenged narrative continued throughout the first half, with the Jumbos garnering a 12–5 lead going into the half. Coming out of the half, senior attacker and co-captain Danny Murphy, who currently leads the team in point contributions with 21 goals and 25 assists this season, had yet to score a goal in the game. However, Murphy, who was selected as a second-team All-American last year, showcased his superhuman presence by scoring a team-high seven goals in the final two quarters of play. Led by Murphy’s performance, the Jumbos nearly doubled Trinity’s goals in the second half, outscoring them 13–7 and handing the Bantams their third conference loss, solidifying both teams’ positions at the opposite ends of the NESCAC rankings.

Senior defenseman and co-captain Arend Broekmate spoke about the team’s win on Saturday, emphasizing the collaborative efforts of the entire team in the victory.

“I thought it was a good win. I thought we played a pretty solid game for all 60 minutes, which is something we’ve been trying to work on,” Broekmate said. “Our shots were good, our goalies were good and the defense was playing well too, so I think we all worked pretty well together on [Saturday].”

Saturday’s victory also demonstrated a historical performance for the Jumbos. The Jumbos’ 25 points are tied for the second-most goals scored in a game in team history. Along with this team achievement, Murphy tied a personal record with his season-high seven goals on the day, joining the ranks of eleven other Jumbos tied for the third-most goals scored in a game.

So far, the Jumbos have held the majority of their games this season to a comfortable set of wins. Fueled by their dominant offense, which has scored an average of about 18 goals per game this season combining for a total of 147 goals, the Jumbos coasted through their games over break.

Following a strong comeback victory against Colby, the Jumbos continued on to beat Stevenson by a score of 19–7 on Tuesday. With the victory, the Stevenson game concluded the Jumbos’ remaining non-conference games of the regular season.

On Friday, March 15, the Jumbos traveled to Waterville, Maine, to face another NESCAC rival, the Colby College Mules (3–3).

Although Colby went into the game with an 0–2 record in the conference, the Mules proved to be strong opposition for the Jumbos. Although the Jumbos built up a 6–1 run in the first and beginning of the second quarter, the Mules rallied in spectacular fashion, scoring seven straight goals to take a 10–8 lead over the Jumbos with under five minutes remaining in the third quarter. However, the Jumbos quickly regained their footing and went on to score three goals to bring the score to an 11–11 tie with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. Aided by a defensive crackdown, the Jumbos scored two more goals in the final three minutes of the game, saving their undefeated record and overcoming the Mules by a final score of 13–11.

The outcome of the Colby game echoed the ambitions that Tufts coach Casey D’Annolfo expressed for his team at the opening of the season towards staying mentally tough in clutch moments.

“You know, when we have opportunities to go up three or four, we can make a mental mistake, and then we’ll be back within one or back within two,” D’Annolfo said. “We can really start to blow it up a little bit, so we’ve got to do a better job of staying mentally tough in those moments when we have a chance to start breaking open a little bit and give our wings an opportunity to spread it back in our favor.”

Over the next month, the Jumbos will face some of their toughest opponents yet as they battle for NESCAC glory. Included among these NESCAC teams are the Amherst College Mammoths (7–0), who immediately precede the Jumbos as the second-best team in the country. The undefeated Jumbos will continue towards their goal of an NCAA championship this Saturday at 1 p.m., when they travel to New London, Conn. to battle the Conn. College Camels (3–4).