MEDFORD - Tufts won its seventh straight NESCAC Men's Lacrosse Championship at home on Bello Field Sunday with a 20-14 victory over Middlebury College. The seven conference championships match the most in league history.
Garrett Clarke and Zach Richman both scored four goals for the Jumbos, who improved to 16-2 overall and received the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The selection show for the NCAA Division III field is tonight at 9 pm and can be viewed at http://www.ncaa.com/liveschedule.
Middlebury, led by five goals and two assists from Tim Giarrusso today, dropped to 12-6. The Panthers will await a possible at-large berth into NCAA's tonight.
Visiting Middlebury won a first-quarter shoot-out with the Jumbos to get today's conference final started. The Panthers had a 9-5 lead after 15 minutes of play. Giarusso had four goals and an assist in the first period and Kyle Soroka scored twice. Tufts had taken an early 3-1 lead, but a pair of Giarusso goals sandwiched around a John Jackson face-off win and goal put Middlebury up 4-3. After Tufts' Austin Carbone evened it at 4-4, Middlebury scored five of the next six goals in the period.
However, after allowing the nine first-quarter goals, Tufts would give up just one in the next 20 minutes of action. The Jumbos scored nine of their own during that span and led 14-10 at 10:12 of the third quarter. Clarke, Richman, and John Uppgren all scored twice during the turn-around for the Jumbos. Uppgren's goal at 1:12 of the second quarter tied the score 10-10 heading into halftime. Ben Andreycak scored at 11:50 of the third giving Tufts a lead they would not relinquish.
Middlbury fought back to within 16-14 at the end of the third quarter. They out-scored the Jumbos 4-2 in the final 10 minutes of the period, with Soroka scoring twice and Cedric Rhodes tallying a goal and an assist.
Tufts would put the game away in the fourth quarter, blanking the Panthers while adding four more goals. Two came on man-up situations and Michael Mattson assisted one and scored the other.
Carbone and Uppgren both had three goals and two assists to lead Tufts with five points. After allowing nine goals on 13 shots in the first quarter, Alex Salazar rebounded in the Jumbo net and finished with 14 saves. Conor Helfrich took all 37 face-offs for the Jumbos and won 24. Tucker Mathers collected three groundballs.
Soroka finished with four goals and an assist for Middlebury. Will Ernst made 19 saves, including seven in the third quarter. Joseph Zelkowitz and Jon Hurvitz both picked up four groundballs.
The teams combined for nearly 100 shots with Tufts earning a 58-40 advantage. Middlebury finished with a 34-33 edge in groundballs. The combined 34 goals are the most ever scored by both teams in a NESCAC Tournament game.
Tufts' seven straight NESCAC titles since 2010 match the seven in a row Middlebury won from 2001-07. With their 3-0 run through this spring's conference tournament, Tufts is now 27-9 in NESCAC post-season play and has not lost a conference tournament game since 2009.
The 2016 seniors are the fourth straight class to win four conference championships during their careers