Fall and winter sports season reviews

The Tufts men's soccer team celebrates its Div. III NCAA title following its 2–1 win over Calvin in Greensboro, N.C. on Dec. 1, 2018. Courtesy Brian Westerholt

Men’s cross country

Led by coach Joel Williams, the men’s cross country team finished 25th out of 32 teams after a two-year hiatus from national competition. The team competed at the Lake Breeze Golf Course, courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, in Winneconne, Wis., on Nov. 17, 2018.

After missing out on top-30 ranks for much of the season, the team was pleased to be one of four NESCAC teams to compete in the competition and to place within the top 30 of the nation’s best. Tufts qualified after finishing fifth out of 58 teams at the NCAA championships at Bowdoin on Nov. 10, 2018. Graduating senior Brian Reaney was the first Tufts athlete to finish the 8k, finishing 95th overall with a 25:34.5 time. Fellow graduating senior Colin Raposo was only 0.4 seconds behind, finishing 97th.

Athletes in the race had to navigate a fall that set back over a dozen runners, including graduating seniors Hiroto Watanabe, Rory Buckman, Andrew Doherty Munro and Brian Reaney, who was able to recover to finish first for the Jumbos. Unlike many teams that have an exemplary front-runner, Tufts’ runners worked together and for each other to make their best finish possible in their best season since 2016, when two runners put in top-35, All-American performances.

Women’s cross country

The Women’s cross country  team finished its 2018 season in mid-November at the NCAA Championships hosted at the Lake Breeze Golf Course. The team finished 12th out of 32 teams in the 6k. It was its sixth consecutive top-20 finish dating back to the 2013 season. The squad qualified for nationals after finishing fifth at the NCAA Regional Championships hosted by NESCAC rivals Bowdoin. Tufts was one of three NESCAC schools to finish in the top 15.

Graduating senior co-captain Natalie Bettez highlighted the Jumbos’ performance, racing a 22:06.1 time good for 45th overall, the fastest time a Jumbo posted at the event. Bettez earned three consecutive All-NESCAC honors the past three years, multiple Athlete of the Week nominations, and was Tufts’ first-place finisher in seven out of eight meets in the fall cross country season.

Fellow graduating senior co-captain Kelsey Tierney came in second, clocking in at 22:31.4, good for 95th overall. After suffering an injury that derailed her junior year racing season, it was a season of redemption for the Whitman, Mass. native.

Other finishers included graduating seniors Olivia Barnett, who placed 116th, and Julia Noble, who closely followed at 126th. In her first nationals appearance, rising sophomore Anna Slager was the fifth Jumbo to finish the race. Rising seniors Lydia Heely and Jennifer Jackson finished 149th and 224th, respectively.

Field hockey

Led by coach Tina Mattera, the Tufts field hockey team enjoyed a tremendous fall season, cruising to the NCAA Div. III Championship game in Manheim, Pa. Thanks to a season of hard work, the Jumbos closed out the year with a No. 4 national rank, receiving a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament. At the final hurdle, the Jumbos fell to NESCAC rival and No. 2 Middlebury College by a score of 2–0, constituting the Panthers’ second NCAA title in back-to-back years. The Panthers were responsible for all three of the Jumbos’ losses in the 2018 season, including the NESCAC title game.

Despite falling just short, the Jumbos walked away from the season with a 19–3 overall record and a 9–1 NESCAC record for second in the conference. Not only was the offense potent, scoring 52 goals, but 13 out of the Jumbos’ 19 victories were shutouts, reflecting the team’s strong goalkeeping and defense all season long. In fact, first-year goalkeeper Andie Stallman boasted the lowest goals-against average in the NESCAC at 0.37.

There are several graduating seniors who will be sorely missed: co-captains midfielder Fallon Shaughnessy and forward Gigi Tutoni, forward Hanaa Malik, midfielder Claire Trilling, defender Issy Del Priore and goalkeeper Emily Polinski. Del Priore, Tutoni and Shaughnessy earned All-NESCAC and All-New England West honors, with Del Priore and Tutoni earning spots on the prestigious All-American team as well.

Football

The Jumbos found immense success on the gridiron in 2018, winning seven games for just the second time this century and never once losing at the Ellis Oval. Tufts finished in third place in the NESCAC behind Trinity and Amherst, improving from their sixth-place finish just one season prior. The Jumbos finished the season ranked seventh in the New England Div. III coaches’ poll after losing just two games in the season, both of which were at the hands of the two teams who finished above them in the NESCAC.

Offensively, the Jumbos were led by graduating senior co-captain quarterback Ryan McDonald, who was named to the All-NESCAC First Team for the first time in his career. McDonald was protected by a strong offensive line led by graduating senior offensive linemen Tim Reitzenstein and Josh Thibeault, who were placed on the All-NESCAC First Team and Second Team, respectively. This was the second time Reitzenstein received the honor in his career.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jumbos were led by rising senior co-captain linebacker Greg Holt, who was named to the All-NESCAC First Team for the third straight year. Graduating senior defensive back Tim Preston was named to his first All-NESCAC First Team. Two other Jumbos were named to the All-NESCAC Second Team, including graduating senior co-captain safety Alex LaPiana. The season marked coach Jay Civetti’s fourth straight season with a record above .500.

Men’s soccer

The Jumbos finished a historic unbeaten season in December 2018 that culminated in the team’s third national championship title in five years. History repeated itself like clockwork: the Jumbos fell in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC tournament as they did in both 2014 and 2016, but soared through each round of the NCAA tournament to eventually claim the title. The 18–0–3 season saw the team score 46 goals while conceding only 11, with 15 different goal scorers from all positions on the field finding the net.

A graduating class of four seniors have anchored the team on the defensive end over their tenure. Two-time All-NESCAC and All-New England honoree Sterling Weatherbie captained the team for two seasons and has started at left back since his sophomore year. His classmates, defender Jackson Najjar, goalkeeper Conner Mieth and forward Jarod Glover boast a 59–12–12 record over their four-year campaign, including the team’s first ever NESCAC title in 2017, and two NCAA titles in 2016 and 2018. Junior forward Joe Braun earned his first All-American nod, being named to the All-NESCAC, All-New England and All-American First Teams after tallying 10 goals and six assists. Junior midfielder Gavin Tasker received his first accolades for the All-NESCAC and All-New England First Teams as well this year. With an eight-man rising senior class, next season is sure to be an exciting one as the Jumbos attempt to recreate their success under Div. III Coach of the Year Josh Shapiro.

Women’s soccer

The Tufts women’s soccer team enjoyed a successful fall season, closing with an 11–6–2 record. The Jumbos started the season with five straight wins, giving the team the confidence and belief that they could contend for a NESCAC title and make a run in the NCAA tournament. The NESCAC regular season ended with two consecutive losses, dropping the team to No. 4 in the standings heading into the postseason. After hosting the first round of the playoffs and beating Wesleyan 2–0, Tufts faced off against eventual national champions Williams. After a hard-fought battle, Williams came out on top by a score of 3–2.

The Jumbos were given an at-large bid to the national tournament and looked poised to make a run. Once again, Tufts looked sharp in the first round, getting past Penn. State Behrend 2–0. In the round of 32, the Jumbos suffered a crushing 1–0 defeat in double overtime against William Smith College.

Five Jumbos received All-NESCAC accolades. Graduating senior goalkeeper Emily Bowers received her second straight First Team honor, while rising senior midfielders Jenna Troccoli and Sarah Maloney and rising junior forward Liz Reed all joined Bowers on the First Team. Rising junior forward Sophie Lloyd, whose season was interrupted by a concussion, earned a Second Team honor. Maloney went on to earn the even more prestigious honor of being selected to the United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America Third Team.

Volleyball

The Tufts volleyball team finished the 2018 season ranked No. 5 in the NESCAC with an overall record of 16–10, and a 6–4 record in-conference. Coming off of an immaculate NESCAC season in 2017, the Jumbos transitioned into the 2018 season under the leadership of senior co-captain Mackenzie Bright and junior co-captain Maddie Stewart, both opposites/outside hitters. The 2018 season introduced three talented first-years to the program, including NESCAC Rookie of the Year outside hitter/opposite Cate Desler, who led the team in both service aces and kills, clocking in an impressive 41 and 247, respectively.

Following a victorious season opener against Clark University, the team traveled south to compete in the Emory National Tournament. At the tournament, the Jumbos went 2–2, gaining valuable experience that would help them take on conference competitors. In their first two conference matches, the Jumbos squared off against Bates and Colby on back-to-back days, beating both teams 3–0.

As the season progressed, Tufts beat Roger Williams, University of Massachusetts Boston, Hamilton, Williams and Trinity, before taking on Springfield, Babson and MIT in the New England Challenge. The Jumbos swept their competitors with three consecutive wins, making Tufts the back-to-back champions of the New England Challenge. Leading up to the postseason, Tufts beat Connecticut College and fell to Wesleyan.

In the NESCAC quarterfinals, the Jumbos took on the Middlebury Panthers for the second time, beating the fourth-seed team 3–0. Tufts proceeded to take on Bowdoin, the number-one seed, in the NESCAC semifinals, falling to the undefeated Polar Bears in a five-set match.

Men’s basketball

The men’s basketball team relied on fresh talent this year after graduating six seniors in 2018. Vincent Pace (LA ‘18), who captained the team in the 2017–2018 season, ultimately went on to play professionally in Malta. Leveraging their young talent — 10 out of the 13 members of their roster were either rising sophomores or rising juniors — the Jumbos featured a high-octane offense in their 2018–2019 campaign, averaging 82.3 points per game. However, they struggled both defensively and on the road at times, posting a 12–14 overall record and a 4–6 conference record.

While sometimes inconsistent, the team certainly did not lack excitement. Tufts dethroned top-ranked Middlebury during the regular season in January and again in the NESCAC quarterfinals, which was made all the more impressive as Tufts had squeaked into the NESCAC tournament as the No. 8 seed. Ultimately, Tufts fell 89–84 to Hamilton in the NESCAC semifinal, but the team proved with the victory over top-seeded Middlebury that it has the firepower and resilience to compete with anyone in the league.

Junior guard and captain Eric Savage, who led the team with an average of 16 points per game, was integral to Tufts NESCAC title push. Under longtime coach Bob Sheldon and Savage’s leadership, first-year guard Tyler Aronson quickly rose through the ranks and became a force to be reckoned with, scoring an average of 10.1 points per game. Sophomore guards Brennan Morris, Justin Kouyoumdjian and center Luke Rogers also played key roles, delivering sharp outside shooting and aggressive rebounding in support.

Women’s basketball

The Tufts women’s basketball team finished the season with an impressive 28–3 record, an improvement from the 26–5 finish last year. Tufts’ season was driven in part by an early offensive explosion, with the team putting up more than 80 points in seven of its first nine games. This included a program record of 110 points against Brandeis on Nov. 25, 2018.

While the Jumbos fell to their traditional rivals, the Bowdoin Polar Bears and the Amherst Mammoths, during the regular season, the team was able to extract a measure of revenge in the NESCAC tournament. Tufts defeated Amherst 47–46 in the NESCAC semifinals, before going one better to upset hosts Bowdoin 75–69 to claim the NESCAC title.

Tufts comfortably saw off the challenge of Western New England, Haverford and Messiah to reach its sixth straight Elite Eight appearance at the national tournament. After a close contest, the  Jumbos fell 44–40 to the hosts, the Scranton Royals.

Nevertheless, for the team’s impressive performances this year, graduating senior Jac Knapp and rising senior forward Erica DeCandido were both named to the All-Conference and All-New England teams. The team graduates just two seniors — Knapp and forward Katie Martensen, the team’s two co-captains this year.

Fencing

The Tufts fencing team closed out its 2018–2019 season with a record of 8–13. Although the Jumbos finished out the year with a losing record, they improved from their previous season in which they only won seven times, an impressive feat given the number of injuries that plagued the team throughout the year. Because of the numerous injuries, the team was forced to forfeit points in nearly every meet this season, putting them at a heavy disadvantage. Despite their slimmer lineup, the Jumbos kept up team spirit, persevered and were pleased with how the season played out.

The Jumbos’ most noteworthy performance was at the Northeast Fencing Conference Meet in early February. At the meet in Medford, Mass., the hosts won four of their six matches, beating Smith College, UMass, Sacred Heart and University of New Hampshire while dropping matches against Wellesley and Boston University.

Graduating senior co-captain Zoe Howard and rising sophomores Allison Cheng and Hannah Fruitman proved to be essential to the team’s success this season, each individually finishing with impressive win rates.

As the Jumbos look forward to their next season, they are hoping for a healthier year as well as continued success and contribution from the younger members of the program.

Hockey

The 2018–2019 season for the Jumbos is probably best classified as one of growth and development. The team finished with a 6–16–3 overall record (3–12–3 NESCAC). The record was enough for a NESCAC playoff berth, but Tufts unfortunately fell to Trinity in a 3–0 loss in the first round. Looking ahead, there is a lot for the Jumbos to get excited about in the next few seasons.

The Jumbo core is young, with eight rising sophomores lining the roster. Of those rising sophomores, goalkeeper Josh Sarlo stood out with a .930 save percentage in 10 appearances and a 59-save performance against Trinity towards the middle of the season. His saves against Trinity are tied for fourth in Tufts’ history for single-game performances. Also among the newcomers were Justin Brandt and Nick Schultze, who contributed nine points apiece during the season and made noticeable impacts as forwards. Trevor Spence also made his presence known with an eight-point season as defenseman.

This young core certainly looks ahead with optimism after only one full season together. Despite their lack of overall success, the Jumbos had several big wins and consistent winning streaks throughout the season. These included a five-game stretch in which Tufts went 4–1, beating conference foes Bowdoin and Williams along the way by a combined score of 12–3. The team will look to smooth its consistency and harness its full offensive potential next year in the 2019–2020 season, especially after graduating only one senior in captain Clay Berger.

Men’s squash

Led by coach Joe Raho in his second year at the helm, the men’s squash team played in the third tier of the squash national championships, competing in the Summers Cup for the first time since 2010. The team finished its regular season with a 7–13 record and reached the quarter-finals of the NESCAC Championship.

Ranked No. 24 in the nation following the CSA Team Nationals Summers Cup, the Jumbos were without their No. 1 player in Raghav Kumar due to injury, forcing every athlete to play up a position. Though they lost all their matches — two of them being 9–0 asphyxiations — Tufts was among giants, competing against big-time programs like No. 1 seeded Williams. In the closest match of nationals weekend, Bowdoin just beat out Tufts, 6–3, for the No. 23 rank in college squash. Seven out of the nine matches went to at least four games in the Jumbos’ last team match of the season.

At individual nationals the next weekend, graduating senior Alan Litman lost to Ricardo Lopez from the University of Rochester 11–2, 11–5, 11–7. He was able to win a match against Senen Urbina from Navy, but lost the first, third and fourth matches, knocking him out of the tournament and ending Tufts’ season. Tufts graduates seniors Brett Raskopf, Aidan Porges, Imran Trehan and Litman.

Women’s squash

The Tufts women’s squash team finished the 2018–2019 season with a 12–7 overall record, including a 5–3 mark in regular season conference play and two victories over rival Bates. The Jumbos fell in the first round of the NESCAC tournament to the Amherst Mammoths as the fifth seed. In the final round of the Walker Cup — Div. III squash’s third tier of competition — Tufts dropped a tight 6–3 contest to Bates.

The top seed in the Walker Cup was good for a No. 18 national ranking, capping a seven-spot leap over the past four years led by the class of graduating seniors, who helped initiate a massive turnaround for the program. Now entering his third year, coach Joseph Raho has been a major force in the program’s upward trajectory, guiding the Jumbos into the thick of the NESCAC squash battle. With new courts arriving next February, expect Tufts to continue to rise through the division ranks and challenge the likes of Amherst and Bates.

Rising senior co-captain Claire Davidson played the No. 1 position for the Jumbos all season long, making the individual national tournament for the second straight season, while rising junior Julie Yeung finished another strong season in the No. 2 position. The Jumbos graduated six seniors this year: Hannah Burns, Chista Irani, Zarena Jafry, Sahana Karthik, Olivia Ladd-Luthringshauser and Isabella Libassi.

Men’s swimming and diving

It was a historic season for the Tufts men’s swimming and diving team, and a culmination of the successes built upon in recent seasons. It was just a year ago at Bowdoin College when the Tufts won their first ever NESCAC Championships, and at Middlebury College this year, the Jumbos finished in a close second behind the Williams Ephs. In fact, the team increased their points tally from their 2018 total, up to 1775.5 from 1671. Coach Adam Hoyt and his team didn’t stop there, however. At the NCAA Championships in Greensboro, N.C., rising senior Roger Gu swam a NESCAC-record 19.49 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle to become a national champion. Gu, who also finished second in the 100-yard freestyle, became the first Jumbo national champion since Jim Lilly (LA ‘82) won the 100-yard butterfly. Lilly was also recently inducted to the Tufts Athletics Hall of Fame.

Tufts says goodbye to decorated senior and captain Kingsley Bowen, who took home NESCAC Swimmer of the Year and was the NESCAC 4-Year High Point Swimmer. The graduating senior finished on top at the NESCACs in the 50, 100 and 200-yard backstroke races.

Fresh off a third successive top-10 finish at the NCAA Div. III National Championships, the team will return in 2020 with heightened expectations.

Women’s swimming and diving

The Tufts women’s swimming and diving team had their best-ever finish at NESCAC Championships this year, breaking up the previous top-two duopoly of Williams and Amherst that had reigned supreme the previous three years. Rising junior Amy Socha came away with the lone Jumbo victory that weekend, topping the competition in the 200-yard butterfly.

The Jumbos were not done with just the NESCACs; their 16th-place finish at the NCAA Div. III Championships in Greensboro, N.C. was the team’s best since 1990. Tufts had seven All-Americans, including two for Socha in the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle and four honorable mentions for rising sophomore Mary Hufziger. The team, coached by Adam Hoyt since 2015, set six school records at the championships.

The Jumbos will say goodbye to decorated graduating senior Colleen Doolan, the only senior on the NCAA roster this year. Doolan was part of a relay that finished second at the NESCACs in the 800-yard freestyle relay along with Hufziger, rising junior Abby Claus and rising senior Grace Goetcheus with a time of 7:28.71, a school record. She’s taken home three all-American honorable mentions at the NCAAs.

Men’s indoor track and field

After finishing second at the New England Div. III Championships in late February at MIT, the Tufts indoor track and field team advanced three athletes to the national championships just down the road in Roxbury, Mass.

Graduating senior co-captain Hiroto Watanabe, along with classmates Colin Raposo and Josh Etkind were the sole representatives for Tufts at the NCAA Div. III National Championships held locally at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Mass. on Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10.

Though none of the athletes advanced to the final round on Saturday, the three posted impressive nationally ranked results in the preliminaries on Friday. Watanabe ran in the 800-meter, finishing with a 1:54.69 time, good for 16th. The top eight moved on. In similar fashion, Etkind raced in the 60-meter hurdles and finished 14th with a 8.36 time. In the mile run, Raposo finished 15th with a 4:15.25 time. He missed out on 10th place — and a trip to Saturday’s finals — by only two seconds.

For the trio’s last indoor race, it was bittersweet to have the race at home.

“Because the race was in Boston, it was amazing to have all of my teammates there … The atmosphere was amazing for racing,” Raposo told the Daily, days after the race in March. “It was honestly one of the most fun races I’ve run in a long time.”

Women’s indoor track and field

During the winter indoor season, the women’s track and field team proved again to be one of the top Div. III teams in New England.

At the end of February, the Jumbos placed third at the Div. III New England Championships, behind Williams and MIT. Under the leadership of coach Kristen Morwick — now entering her 20th season at Tufts — the squad has placed third or fourth at New England Championships every winter since the 2014–2015 season.

Two runners also qualified for the NCAA Championships, hosted in Boston, though many were in contention throughout the season. At the national meet, rising senior Rhemi Toth ran a personal best 4:55.13 mile to earn seventh place and All-American honors, while graduating senior and co-captain Kelsey Tierney placed 10th in the mile.

The Jumbos graduate some top performers, including Tierney, graduating senior and co-captain Evelyn Drake and graduating senior Kylene DeSmith.

A strong rising sophomore class suggests that their success could continue. For example, the 4×400 relay team, comprised of rising sophomore Tara Lowensohn, rising sophomore Hannah Neilon, rising sophomore Luana Machado and rising senior Julia Gake, just missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships, but put up strong times all season. Looking forward, the team is excited to see where its potential can take it.


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