It wasn’t a pretty game, but at the final horn, the No. 1 Tufts men’s lacrosse team continued their undefeated season on Saturday with a 22–12 Senior Day win over Hamilton. With the win, Tufts improved to 14–0 overall and 9–0 in the NESCAC, maintaining their No. 1 ranking nationally. Then, the Jumbos made history on Wednesday when they defeated the No. 7 Bowdoin Polar Bears 19–15, finishing the regular season undefeated.
A very even first quarter saw Hamilton strike first before sophomore midfielder Charlie Tagliaferri responded with his own goal. Both teams continued to trade goals for the remainder of the quarter, as two goals from sophomore attacker Max Ettinghausen and one goal from senior midfielder Jack Boyden were each answered by a Hamilton goal to keep things even. However, Hamilton was the one in front at the end of the quarter thanks to a goal from first-year attacker Thomas Healy.
The beginning of the second quarter was much of the same. In less than a minute, Tagliaferri equalized for the Jumbos and senior attacker Kurt Brunn put Tufts ahead. Hamilton quickly found another goal to tie the score once again.
Tufts began to find some momentum, with goals from first-year midfielder Jack Regnery, sophomore midfielder Sam Frisoli, sophomore midfielder Cam Delcristo and Ettinghausen giving Tufts a 12–8 lead heading into the locker room.
“In the 2nd quarter, our defense made more stops and our offense got more shots off,” senior midfielder Joe Murtha wrote to the Daily. “When we start owning ground balls in the middle of the field, we give our offense more opportunities which they continue to capitalize on like they have done all year.”
Tufts came out of the locker room with a bang, as senior attacker Tommy Swank scored twice in the span of 16 seconds to extend the lead to 14–8. Hamilton matched the rest of Tufts’ goals for the rest of the quarter but could not find a way to cut into the lead, resulting in a 16–10 advantage after three quarters.
A strong fourth quarter offensively ensured the Jumbos walked off Bello Field with their 14th win of the season, as Hamilton only managed two more goals in the game.
“We always want to focus on doing the little things that allow us to be successful,” Brunn wrote to the Daily. “Things like communication, hustle and toughness were keys at the beginning of the game that we emphasized again at halftime.”
Boyden once again led the team in points with seven, Swank right behind him with five points of his own. The Jumbos dominated the little things, with strong defensive showings all around limiting Hamilton in the second half. Senior defender Kyle Adelmann picked up six ground balls and caused five turnovers.
“He puts a lot of pressure on his matchup, getting multiple caused turnovers and ground balls every game,” Murtha wrote of Adelmann.
Senior face-off specialist Mason Kohn had another efficient day at the “X,” going 14–18 on faceoffs and picking up 12 ground balls.
“Those guys are the best in the country at what they do,” Brunn wrote. “They certainly do all the little things that allow us to be successful.”
Saturday’s win was extra special for the Jumbo seniors as they played their final regular season game on Bello Field. Honoring the 13 seniors on this year’s roster, Brunn saw Saturday’s celebrations as a celebration of those who have been there for the players since day one.
“To earn a good win at home is always fun, but to do it with our families present was super special,” Brunn wrote. “Those are the people who have supported us from the start, so I really think senior day is more about thanking them for all they’ve done as we approach the end of our careers.”
Facing their April 26 match, as this year’s seniors winded down from senior day celebrations, they knew they were one game away from doing something remarkable for a collegiate lacrosse team: going undefeated in a regular season.
“Our first priority right now is defeating Bowdoin tomorrow night and being the first team in Tufts lacrosse history to have a perfect regular season,” Murtha wrote.
As the regular season winds down and Tufts looks geared for yet another deep run in the NESCAC and NCAA tournaments, both Murtha and Brunn know the team needs to keep doing what they have been doing since preseason to ensure success and to make the most of their last few weeks as Tufts lacrosse players.
While the stakes are rising, Murtha said the team will continue to utilize the strategies they have been training since late September.
“While winning is always fun, getting better each day is our main focus,” Brunn wrote. “We have a great group that loves being around each other, and we know that continuing to win, one game at a time, means more opportunities to be with each other and build on the relationships we have within the team.”