PHILADELPHIA - The Tufts University Men's Lacrosse team overcame a slow start to earn a 19-11 victory against Lynchburg College as the Jumbos won the NCAA championship for the second straight year and third time overall Sunday in front of 19,559 fans at Lincoln Financial Field.
Tufts (21-2) trailed 4-0 early, but rallied to take a 5-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Jumbos out-scored the Hornets 5-2 in the second quarter to lead 10-6 at halftime. A 6-2 third-quarter advantage allowed the Jumbos to pull away.
Junior Conor Helfrich was selected as Most Outstanding Player after winning 23 of 31 face-offs in the game. Junior John Uppgren scored four goals with four assists while senior co-captain Cole Bailey added three goals and four assists.
Head coach Mike Daly's team added this 2015 national championship to titles won by the 2014 team over Salisbury (12-9) and the 2010 squad (9-6) also against Salisbury. Tufts was playing in the NCAA final for the fourth time including 2011.
"It's special," Bailey said about winning back-to-back titles. "It speaks volumes about this program, Coach Daly and the rest of the coaching staff, the alumni and the support we have. Without them none of this is possible. Just a great group of guys. I've grown so much being around them for four years .
Lynchburg (21-3) could not maintain the momentum from a tremendous start. The Hornets had the first 14 shots on goal in the game and scored four times in the opening 8:26 of play. Back-to-back goals by senior Todd Galvin gave Lynchburg a 4-0 lead at 6:34 of the first.
Like a flick of the switch, Tufts turned the momentum. They scored five times in a 4:25 span to take a 5-4 lead on sophomore Zach Riman's goal with 1:18 remaining in the period. Uppgren had two goals and an assist during the stretch.
"We didn't need a timeout," Tufts head coach Mike Daly said about his team trailing 4-0. "We were nervous, but we didn't need a timeout. And these guys, as they have all year long, they just keep grinding and obviously we went on a pretty nice run from that point on. I have so much respect for these guys and how tough they are."
The Jumbo advantage continued into the second quarter, but not before Lynchburg junior Austin Stewart set a new NCAA Div. 3 record by scoring his 108th goal of the season. That opened the second-quarter scoring and tied the game at 5-5.
However, the Jumbos tallied five of the next six goals in the second for their four-goal halftime bulge. Goals by Helfrich, sophomore Tyler Carbone and senoir Charlie Rubin came within 39 seconds. Uppgren broke his own school record for points in a season with the 10th Tufts goal at 5:20 of the second quarter.
After scoring the first three goals of the second half to lead 13-6, Tufts had out-scored the Hornets 13-2 since the early 4-0 deficit. Bailey had two of those goals. Lynchburg's Aaron Murphy made it 13-7, but the Jumbos tallied the next three for their largest lead of the game at 16-7 with 5:29 remaining on the third-quarter clock. Uppgren's over-the-shoulder goal at 5:29 of the third was worthy of ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 Plays of the Day.
"Coach Daly just lets us play, which is awesome," Uppgren said. "We have the freedom to do what we want to do out there, be creative. I just went for it. Kind of a free shot."
Lynchburg would earn a 4-3 advantage over the final 15:39 of the game, but it was too little, too late. Murphy had two of the goals and an assist while Stewart also scored to finish the season with 109 goals.
Murphy led the Hornets with five points on three goals and three assists. Galvin finished with three goals and an assist while junior Dane Angell had a goal and an assist.
Senior Peter Gill, junior Garrett Clarke and sophomore Zach Richman each scored twice for Tufts. Junior Alex Salazar made 11 saves in the Tufts net while senior long-stick midfielder Jeff Chang came up with six groundballs.
Junior Chris Hawley made 20 saves in goal for Lynchburg. Senior Eric Lombardo caused three turnovers on defense and came up with five groundballs. Senior Chris Hower also won five groundballs.
With this four goals and four assists today, Uppgren finished the season with 76 goals and 53 assists for 129 points to break his own single-season scoring record. He also edged Stewart for the NCAA Div. 3 scoring title as his 129 points were three better than Stewart's 126.
Tufts tied the school record for victories set last season, giving the team a 42-4 mark during that span.
"A lot of guys who came before us set this standard, and we have to live up to that every day," Helfrich said. "I just think it's a testament to all the guys who came before us, all our coaches and just all the great people that we're so lucky to have in our program."
Today's victory is the 13th NCAA title won by a Jumbo team or individual since 2010. Tufts teams have won seven NCAA championships in men's lacrosse (2010, 2014, 2015), men's soccer (2014), field hockey (2012) and softball (2013 and 2014). Individually, Julia Browne captured the 2010 Division III women's singles crown in tennis, Johann Schmidt won the 2012 and 2014 NCAA men's one-meter diving championship, Jana Hieber took the 2014 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track 400-meter hurdles title and Mitchell Black won both the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 800 meters races.
Game Photos by Kelvin Ma / Tufts