MEDFORD – Capping a dramatic conference championship weekend during which they won twice in overtime, the Tufts University men's lacrosse team captured its ninth NESCAC championship on Sunday with a 17-16 victory over Williams College at Bello Field.
Sophomore Max Waldbaum scored with 2:05 remaining in the overtime period to help the Jumbos earn their second consecutive league championship. Tufts (17-1) receives the conference's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Williams (15-3), who erased a 15-11 deficit in two minutes during the fourth quarter to tie the game at 15-15, will await a probable at-large berth into the NCAA's.
Yesterday against Middlebury in the conference semifinals at Bello, Tufts had come back from down 13-8 late in the third quarter to win in overtime 14-13. Today they never trailed, but had to survive an overtime opportunity by the Ephs before scoring the game-winning goal. This weekend's games were the first two overtime contests Tufts has played all season.
The Jumbos led 15-11 today when Waldbaum and junior Nick Shanks scored the first two goals of the fourth quarter. However, the Ephs tied it quickly with four goals from the 7:38 mark to 5:36 of the final period. Junior John Hincks scored twice during the run for Williams and freshman Jake Haase had a goal and an assist.
The teams then traded goals just 10 seconds apart with Jumbo junior goalie Mason Pollack scoring for the third time this season and junior Kevin Stump tallying for the Ephs making it 16-16. Both teams had good opportunities in the final four minutes, including a Williams shot by Haase that hit the post and a pair of Jumbo shots that were saved by Eph sophomore goalie Harry Gahagan. The NESCAC championship game went to overtime for the third time (also 2011 and 2012).
Sophomore Alex Kitt won the overtime faceoff for Williams and the Ephs called time out. A shot by sophomore Jared Strauss went wide, but then Williams turned the ball over on a crease violation. After the Tufts clear, a shot by senior co-captain Danny Murphy went wide before Waldbaum scored his 60th goal of the season to win it.
The Jumbos had led 4-1 on a goal by senior John Cordrey with 1:55 on the first-quarter clock. Haase assisted the next three goals for Williams, two scored by junior Brendan Hoffman, as the Ephs tied it 4-4 early in the second quarter.
A face-off win and goal by Kitt tied the game at 6-6 with 7:10 to go in the half before the Jumbos opened up a 10-7 margin with four of the next five goals. Sophomore Bryce Adam scored a goal with an assist during the stretch and senior Ben Connelly's strike put the Jumbos ahead 10-7 with 1:32 to go until halftime. Sophomore Cory Lund scored for Williams with 14 seconds left in the second quarter pulling the Ephs within 10-8 at the break.
A Hoffman goal barely a minute into the second half had Williams within 10-9. However, the Jumbos were again able to take over for a stretch as they outscored Williams 5-2 for an 18-minute stretch to lead 15-11. Shanks scored twice with an assist and junior Matt Treiber had one of each during this time.
Williams stormed back, but the Jumbos would edge the Ephs by one goal for the second time this year. Tufts had held off Williams 15-14 on April 3 during the regular-season. Today was Tufts' fourth one-goal win of the season.
Adam, Treiber and Waldbaum - who also scored the OT winner against Middlebury on Saturday - all had three goals and an assist for the Jumbos Sunday. Sophomore defenseman Jack Walton caused two turnovers and picked up four ground balls while Pollack recorded nine saves.
Haase (five goals) and Hoffman (five assists) both had seven-point games for Williams and Lund finished with three goals and two assists. Freshman defenseman Chris Burdick finished with two caused turnovers and three ground balls. Gahagan made 12 saves and Kitt finished 22 for 36 on face-offs.
The Jumbos posted a slight 50-46 edge in shots, while Williams was up 41-34 on ground balls. Tufts killed three man-up chances by the Ephs and was 0-1 themselves.
Tufts has won its nine NESCAC titles in the past 10 seasons (2010-16, 2018-19). The Ephs were vying for their second conference crown.
Watch the game-winning goal ...