MEDFORD - After winning their 19th straight NCAA Championship game at home on Bello Field Wednesday, the Tufts University men's lacrosse team will hit the road for Saturday's NCAA third round contest at Wesleyan University. It will be the third time that the Jumbos and the Cardinals have played this spring. Game time is 1 p.m.
Head coach Casey D'Annolfo's Jumbos (13-5) tied a school record for goals in a game with their 26-14 win over Keene State College in NCAA second round action at Bello on Wednesday. While extending a home NCAA win streak that dates back to 2010, the Jumbos attempted an incredible 75 shots in the game and were led by senior Zach Richman's six goals and one assist.
All four NESCAC teams that received NCAA berths won second round games on Wednesday. Wesleyan (18-1) eliminated New England College by a 25-6 score, setting up Saturday's rematch part II with the Jumbos. Bates College (15-1) won 23-10 against Plattsburgh State on Wednesday and will host Amherst College (13-4) on Saturday. The Mammoths were a 14-11 winner over Springfield College in the second round. The Tufts-Wesleyan winner will face the Bates-Amherst winner in the national quarterfinals next Wednesday (May 17).
The Jumbos, who improved to 27-6 in NCAA games overall, will face a Cardinals squad making its fifth NCAA appearance, but first since 2009. Tufts and Wesleyan have never played each other in an NCAA Tournament game.
Despite their lack of NCAA history, the teams are more than familiar with each other in 2017. Though the Jumbos didn't play the Cardinals until their 14th game of the season this year, Saturday's game will be the third time they have played in a six-game span. Wesleyan won both games, 17-16 in the regular season and 17-12 in the NESCAC Championship semi-finals. The Cardinals went on to win their second conference title.
In the regular season game, the Jumbos had a 15-12 lead with 11 minutes remaining before the Cardinals scored five of the final six goals to take the win. Sophomore Danny Murphy netted five goals with two assists for the Jumbos, while Harry Stanton tallied eight goals with two asissts for Wesleyan. The conference semi-final was dominated by Wesleyan, as they led 16-4 early in the third quarter. The Jumbos made a comeback to 16-11 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals were able to keep them at an arm's length. Stanton for Wesleyan and Murphy for Tufts both had four goals in the game.
The old adage in some sports suggests that it's difficult to defeat a team three times in one season. However, Wesleyan is on a roll with a school-record 18-game winning streak. Their lone loss this season was in the opener at Bates, 15-14, back on March 5. The Jumbos looked like themselves against Keene on Wednesday after losing five of their six previous contests, but they will need to bring their Bello Magic on the road to Middletown, Connecticut on Saturday.
Tufts is attempting to advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the eighth straight year. Wesleyan, now 7-4 overall in the NCAA's, made trips to the semi-finals in both 2006 and 2007, then were quarterfinalists in 2009.
The Jumbos upped their goals per game mark to 17.39 by scoring 26 for the third time in school history on Wednesday. The previous occasions were March 23, 2009 versus Mount Ida and May 8, 2013 in the NCAA's against Norwich. The Jumbos' goals against average sits at 12.50. Wesleyan enters the weekend with a strong 8.80 goals against average while scoring at a 14.00 goals per game pace.
A live webcast of Saturday's game will be available at https://www.nsnsports.net/colleges/wesleyan/.