MEDFORD - The seven-time defending conference champion Tufts University men's lacrosse team will put that streak on the line as it starts New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament play on Saturday at Bowdoin College. Start time for the conference quarterfinal is 1:30 p.m.
The Jumbos took a 19-15 loss at Bowdoin on Wednesday night in a game that determined the fourth and final host team for the conference quarterfinals. The Polar Bears (10-5 overall) finished the NESCAC slate at 7-3 to earn the fourth seed, while Tufts (11-4) went 6-4 and received the fifth seed.
With their seven NESCAC titles in a row dating back to 2010, the Jumbos have a 21-game winning streak in the conference tournament. Just two of those victories came against Bowdoin, and both were nail-biters. The Jumbos won 11-10 in the 2011 semi-finals. The teams then met in the 2012 championship game with Tufts winning 9-8 in two overtimes. Tufts is the only team in the conference to qualify for all 17 NESCAC Tournaments, and they have a 27-9 record in those games overall.
Bowdoin will be making its 16th conference championship appearance, tied with Amherst, Middlebury and Wesleyan for the second-most behind Tufts. With a 12-15 record overall in NESCAC post-season play, the Polar Bears have never won a title. However, they are three-time runners-up (2001, 2008, 2012). Last year they lost 10-9 to Middlebury in the semi-finals.
On Wednesday night, the Jumbos led the Polar Bears early at 4-2. A six-goal run by Bowdoin gave them a 9-5 advantage and they took a 10-8 lead into halftime. Tufts tied it at 10-10 early in the third, but Bowdoin scored five of the next seven goals to close the quarter with a 15-12 advantage. Tufts twice pulled within one goal, but the Polar Bears tallied the final three to earn the win. In addition to scoring six goals, Bowdoin's Brett Kujala also added an assist while Matthew Crowell had four goals. Tufts was led by three goals and an assist from Michael Mattson while Frank Hattler had two goals and two assists. The victory was the Polar Bears' first over the Jumbos since 2009.
Tufts is the top scoring team in the league with 263 goals in 15 games, averaging out to 17.53 per contest. Bowdoin ranks fifth in NESCAC with 13.33 goals per game. Defensively, the Polar Bears allow a 10.93 goals against mark for fourth in the league and the Jumbos surrender a 12.20 goals against average for eighth in NESCAC.
Sophomore Danny Murphy leads Tufts and is tied for first in the NESCAC scoring race with 78 points on 46 goals and 32 assists. Tufts junior defender Arend Broekmate leads the conference with 23 caused turnovers. Sophomore goalie Ben Shmerler is first in NESCAC with a .598 save percentage and has allowed a 10.72 goals against average that is fourth in the league.
For Bowdoin, Kujala leads the way with 40 goals while Shawn Daly's 29 assists are sixth in the league to go with 15 goals (44 points). Goalie Peter Mumford enters Saturday with a .511 save percentage and an 11.28 goals against mark. He had 18 saves against the Jumbos on Wednesday night.
The face-off battle features starters Henry Hollen for the Jumbos (198-383, .517) and Sam Carlin from Bowdoin (119-189, .630). Pat Broughton has also taken 111 draws for the Polar Bears, winning 50. Jumbo senior Tucker Mathers with 15 wins had the most of any player on either team Wednesday night.
Bowdoin College will have a live webcast of the game at https://www.nsnsports.net/colleges/bowdoin-college/, as well as live statistics at http://www.gotuftsjumbos.com/sports/mlax/2016-17/boxscores/20170429_sii0.xml.
Read NESCAC's full preview of the women's lacrosse championship here.