No. 2 women’s lacrosse starts season 3–0

Sophomore midfielder Anna Clarke is pictured with the ball during a match against MIT at Bello Field on March 4. Alexander Thompson / The Tufts Daily

The No. 2 women’s lacrosse team dominated in its season opener against Colby and followed with a pair of victories over Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and No. 9 Amherst this past week. In just these three games, the team has scored a total of 47 goals. The Jumbos are now 3‒0 on the season, and 2‒0 in NESCAC play.

“MIT played really strong, we could have played a bit better that day, but we learned a lot from that one,” coach Courtney Shute said. “I think it propelled us into a gritty win and gritty effort against Amherst this past Saturday.”

Tufts traveled to Amherst on Saturday and came out on top by a margin of 9–7. Last season, the Jumbos narrowly defeated the Mammoths 14‒12.

Amherst dominated much of the first half of play, with six goals scored and 17 total shots on goal. The Tufts defense was able to slow down the Amherst offense, with 11 saves made in goal from sophomore goalkeeper Molly Laliberty. At halftime, Tufts trailed 6–3.

Heading into the second half of play, the Jumbos were eager to overcome their goal deficit, and scored early in the second half. The explosive play occurred only two minutes into the half, when junior attacker Kirsten Grazewski assisted senior attacker Emily Games in scoring the first second-half goal.

“We picked up our intensity,” Shute said. “I think the level of effort rose, there wasn’t anything major strategically that we changed, but there was more digging in individually and collectively as a group. We played closer to what we are capable of playing in that second half.”

The second half revealed a change in pace and tone for the Jumbos. Eight minutes into the second half, Tufts tied the game at six after sophomore midfielder Anna Clarke and Games netted two more goals. The Mammoths were only able to score once during the second half, and the Jumbos emerged victorious after the final goal of the game was scored by junior attacker Catherine Lawliss with only 20 seconds left on the clock.

“The game against Amherst … was gonna be a very tough game, they did very well last year,” Games said. “Usually they are a consistently very good team. We knew coming in that we needed to play really hard and they did push us. I think our second half was a lot better than our first half. We remained calm and composed and kept the momentum rolling despite the first half.”

Laliberty tallied a total of 16 saves during the game, while Amherst goalkeeper, junior Talia Land, had only eight saves recorded against the Jumbos’ offense. 

“The entire defensive unit really stepped up yesterday in a lot of big ways,” Laliberty said. “[Senior midfielder] Lily Baldwin had a ton of really important draw controls and [senior midfielder] Maddie Norman had some ground balls. We talked a lot about matchups, and [senior defender] Margaret Chase and [junior defender] Lindsay Erickson were huge in shutting down their girls. This was really big for executing our game plan and all these things came together to make my job a lot easier.”

The Jumbos defeated the MIT Engineers 19–9 in their game last Wednesday. After the first half play, the score looked promising for Tufts, with an 11 point lead. However, during the second half of the play, MIT was able to score seven goals, while Tufts scored six.

Tufts opened its season at Colby last Saturday and ultimately won 19‒5 through rough weather conditions. Despite three early goals by Colby, Tufts was able to match it and hold onto a lead for the latter part of the first half and for the entirety of the second half. Laliberty only allowed one goal during the second half, and the Jumbo defense was able to keep the ball out of its half for most of the game.

“I am lucky to practice against one of the best attacks in the country every single day. Our offense is phenomenal, so going into games I feel really prepared because of what my teammates throw at me everyday,” Laliberty said.

Tufts will travel to No. 6 Gettysburg College on Saturday in a much-anticipated non-conference matchup.

“Being that Gettysburg is a non-NESCAC team, I think it will be very interesting to see what they play like when we scout them,” Games said. “They are a very fast team and have a very strong history winning national championships and being a tough team, so on attack we have to maintain a fast pace and make sure we are moving the ball very quickly.”