The Tufts University women’s lacrosse team won its first NESCAC Championship with a dominant 14–3 victory over Wesleyan this past weekend. With the win, the Jumbos earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III tournament. They will begin NCAA tournament play on Sunday, May 9, against Cabrini University at Colby. The scheduled start time is 2:30 p.m.
The Jumbos, currently ranked third in the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Div. III poll, never trailed in the championship game. They jumped out to a 3–1 lead behind three free position goals. Junior midfielder Kathryn Delaney put the Jumbos on the board just over four minutes into the first half, senior attacker Kirsten Grazewski scored the Jumbos’ second goal and senior attacker Catherine Lawliss punched in the third.
Wesleyan’s Emma Wilson cut Tufts’ lead to 4–2 with 13 minutes to go in the first half. From that moment on, it was the Molly Laliberty show. The junior goalkeeper might have well been a brick wall in the net. She saved 13 of the 16 shots she faced, making several spectacular saves. With the defense firing on all cylinders and Laliberty blocking anything that came her way, Tufts held Wesleyan scoreless for more than 40 minutes after Wilson’s goal.
“We are all feeling so pumped right now — so grateful to have this opportunity, and so proud of ourselves for accomplishing such an amazing feat today,” Laliberty said. “We won this game on our terms, and that was so fun.”
Wesleyan doubled up Tufts on draw controls (12–6) and possession was evenly balanced throughout the afternoon, but Laliberty and the Jumbo defense proved to be too much for the Cardinals. Laliberty was quick to give her defense credit for the win.
“Huge shoutout to Lindsay Erickson and Emma Tomlinson for shutting down their matchups, and to everyone else on defense who worked so hard and took control on the defensive side of the ball,” she said.
The Jumbos were able to turn defense into offense, scoring several times off turnovers and fast break chances. Lawliss finished with four goals for the Jumbos, junior Anna Clarke had three goals, junior Ananda Kao scored two goals, and Delaney, Grazewski, first-year Emma Joyce, junior Colette Smith and senior Emily Games each added a goal.
The Jumbos looked so good on Saturday that Chuck Scott, the Northeast Sports Network commentator broadcasting the game, said on the air: “This Tufts team is almost looking like an old USSR, Soviet-era hockey team: dominant on all fronts.”
The Jumbos now sit at 6–0 for the season as they head to the NCAA Div. III tournament.