This Week in Tufts Athletics: March 3 - 10

MEDFORD – After a great week in Tufts athletics last week, the Jumbos are looking to have another great week this week.  Women’s basketball hosts NCAA Tournament first round action in Cousens Gym this weekend.  Men’s hockey travels to Amherst to play in their first ever NESCAC tournament semifinal.

Men’s and women’s lacrosse are back in action with midweek contests after opening their seasons on a high note with wins over Middlebury.  Men’s and women’s indoor track and field will use this last week to have some athletes qualify for nationals. Women’s fencing will travel to compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships.

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Women’s Basketball: Friday vs. Pine Manor at TBA

After winning their second consecutive NESCAC Championship this past weekend, the women’s basketball team is looking forward to hosting first and second round play of the NCAA tournament this weekend at Cousens Gym.  The Jumbos topped Williams in NESCAC semifinal action on Saturday before beating Bowdoin on Sunday for the conference championship.  Paying a visit to Cousens Gym this weekend will be Pine Manor, St. John Fisher and Skidmore.  In the most recent polls the Jumbos were fifth in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the poll.   

On Saturday, the Jumbos used 20 points from senior tri-captain Hayley Kanner to top the Ephs 53-40 in NESCAC semifinal action.  Sophomore Michela North finished with seven points and 16 rebounds, while sophomore Josie Lee scored eight points off the bench for the Jumbos.  On Sunday, there was a bit of a more balanced scoring effort in a 68-52 win over Bowdoin.  North had 14 points, Kanner finished with 12, junior Emma Roberson scored 16 points and sophomore Josie Lee scored a career-high 12 points.  With the win the Jumbos pushed their win streak to 18 with a 26-1 record this season.  For her performance over the weekend, Lee was honored as the NESCAC Player of the Week.

The Jumbos will stay at home this week as they host first and second round NCAA tournament action on Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 7.  The Jumbos will play Pine Manor College, and St. John Fisher will face Skidmore in Friday’s first round games.  The winners will meet in the second round on Saturday.  This is the fourth straight year the Jumbos have been selected as a Regional host.  

First up for the Jumbos will be Pine Manor, making their first-ever NCAA tournament appearance after winning the Great South Athletic conference tournament title over Agnes Scott.  The Gators have a 13-9 record this season and are led by junior Alexis Lee who is averaging 15.7 points per game.  Rookie Erica Jones has been turning in 10.6 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game, and sophomore Maria Vaughan is averaging 10.0 points per game.  The Jumbos and the Gators have not faced off before, dating back to 1999.

In the other first round game, St. John Fisher (21-6), who is making their 15th NCAA tournament but their first since 2006, will face off with Skidmore (17-10) who is also making their first NCAA tournament appearance.  St. John Fisher won the Empire 8 conference championship with an 86-84 overtime victory over Ithaca.  Skidmore also had a thrilling conference tournament, winning the Liberty League title with a 67-62 double-overtime win over St. Lawrence.

Tufts Athletics will offer a live webcast and live stats for all three games.  Information about ticket prices and game times will be available at shortly.

Men’s Hockey: NESCAC Semifinals Saturday at Amherst at 4:00 pm

The men’s hockey team had a great weekend last weekend, earning the program’s first ever NESCAC quarterfinal win over first seeded Trinity on Saturday afternoon on the Bantam’s home ice.  With the win the Jumbos set up semifinal date with Amherst on Saturday, March 7 at 4:00 pm.  Sophomore goal tender Mason Pulde earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors for his performance in the 2-1 win over Trinity on Saturday.

Pulde collected 42 stops, including 25 in the third period alone.  That included a span of a little less than two minutes when Trinity had a six-on-four advantage, as the Jumbos had a player in the penalty box and the Bantams pulled their goalie to give them the two-man advantage.  The 42 saves was second to only the career-high 48 saves Pulde collected in a tie with Hamilton earlier this season.  Sophomore Matt Pugh opened up scoring for the Jumbos on a goal assisted by freshman Scott Majkowski in the second period.  It was senior Tyler Voigt that scored the game-winning goal in the third period, off an assist from junior Dom Granato.

The Jumbos will now get ready to play Amherst for the third time this season.  When the two teams first met earlier this season, the Lord Jeffs scored the game-winning goal with 26 seconds left in the third period to earn the 3-2 win over the Jumbos.  Senior tri-captain Blake Edwards and junior Brian Ouellette were the goal scorers in the loss, as Pulde had 37 saves. The second time the Lord Jeffs and Jumbos faced off was in the middle of February when the Lord Jeffs earned the 3-1 win.  Freshman Brian Brown was the goal scorer for the Jumbos, and classmate Ryan McConnell was in net for the Jumbos making 20 saves.  

The Lord Jeffs are currently ranked 8th in the national poll and 9th in the USCHO national poll.  With a 19-4-2 overall record and a 14-4-0 mark in conference play, the Lord Jeffs advanced to the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Middlebury.  Rookie David White is leading the offensive charge with 18 goals and 13 assists, with junior Conor Brown adding 10 goals and 12 assists, and classmate Topher Flanagan scoring eight times and assisting 14 others.  Senior Danny Vitale has started 15 games for the Lord Jeffs between the pipes, with junior Dave Cunningham starting ten. Vitale has been in net both times the Jumbos have faced the Lord Jeffs, and owns a .942 save percentage with a 1.73 goals against average.  

For the Jumbos it’s Brown leading the offensive efforts with 13 goals and ten assists.  Voigt is just behind him with 17 points coming from six goals and 11 assists, and Pugh has scored eight times and assisted seven others.  Pulde has started 19 games as the net minder for the Jumbos with McConnell getting the nod in six contests.  Pulde has a .914 save percentage and was 2-2-1 in the month of February, with a career high 48 saves in a tie with Hamilton and 42 saves in the win over Trinity this past Saturday.

Men’s Lacrosse: Tuesday vs. Keene State at 3:30 pm and Saturday at Stevens at 12:00 pm

The men’s lacrosse team opened up their season at home on Bello Field this past Saturday, and started on the right foot with a 17-10 win over Middlebury.  The Jumbos have little time to rest as they host Keene State on Tuesday, March 3 at 3:30 pm and then travel to Stevens for a 12:00 pm contest on Saturday, March 7.

This past weekend the Jumbos used four goals and two assists from junior John Uppgren and three goals and an assist from senior co-captain Cole Bailey to secure a key NESCAC win over Middlebury.  The Panthers had the 6-4 advantage at halftime, but the Jumbos used a strong second half, in which they outshot the Panthers 40-17, to go ahead and secure the win.  Junior Garrett Clarke scored three times and classmate Conor Helfrich won 20 of 30 face offs.  Junior Alex Salazar got the start in net, and made eight saves in the win.

First up for the Jumbos this week is another home contest, this time with Keene State visiting on Tuesday.  The Owls have two games under their belts this season, a 17-16 loss to Western New England to open their season, and more recently a 12-11 overtime win at Rensselaer.   The two teams have only met once before, dating back to 1999, as the Jumbos edged the Owls last year 17-16.   The Owls were receiving votes in the most recent USILA coaches poll, while the Jumbos were ranked #1.

For the owls this season, senior Ryan Hart, a 2014 Little East Conference First Team selection, has seven goals and four assists so far, while sophomore Rob Hart, a LEC second team selection last year, has added six goals and three assists and rookie Hunter Arnold has scored five times and assists five others.  The Owls also return Tyler McKelvie, who was the conference’s offensive player of the year last season, in addition to Mike Curley, who was the conference’s defensive player of the year last year. Sophomore Dylan Florian has started both games in net for the Owls and has collected 38 saves with a 57.6 save percentage.

After the contest with the Owls the Jumbos will turn their focus to Stevens, as they hit the road and pay the Ducks a visit on Saturday.  The Ducks are off to a 2-2 start this season.  They have earned wins over Farleigh Dickinson and Eastern Connecticut, and have been edged by Endicott (15-13) and Springfield (7-6).  Endicott was ranked 9th in the USILA poll, while both Eastern and Springfield were receiving votes.  Andrew Scrutchfield and Tim Leahey have both scored eight times this season, and Connor McKeon has added seven goals of his own.  The Ducks also return Michael Maroon, who was an Empire 8 first team all conference selection last season, in addition to Tim Fair, who joined Maroon on the first team last season.  The Jumbos topped the Ducks, 23-12, last season, and hold the advantage in the series, 4-0, dating back to 1999.  

Women’s Lacrosse: Wednesday vs. Endicott at 3:30 pm

The women’s lacrosse team opened their 2015 on a great note, edging then ranked #3 Middlebury on Saturday on the road.  The Panthers were ranked third in the preseason IWLCA poll while the Jumbos were ranked 14th, but in the most recent poll the Jumbos jumped up to sixth.  This week the Jumbos open their home slate on Wednesday at 3:30 pm against Endicott before having the weekend off to prepare for a busy next week.

The game was close for the entire first half and the Panthers had a 7-6 lead when the Jumbos ran off four straight goals to take a 10-7 advantage with 11:12 remaining in the second half.  Leading the offensive charge for the Jumbos was Lindsey Walker, Kate Mackin and Caroline Ross with three goals each.  With the Jumbos having a one goal lead, Middlebury junior Lauren Pascal had a decent look with 1:04 remaining, but Tufts goalkeeper Rachel Gallimore made a save to preserve the Jumbo lead.  Gallimore finished with ten saves.

The Jumbos will now face Endicott at home on Wednesday.  The game against the Jumbos is the season opener for the Gulls.  Endicott finished last season with a 14-4 record and a 7-1 conference mark.  The Gulls won the Commonwealth Coast Conference Championship last season, but were just behind Western New England in this year’s preseason poll.  Middlebury topped Endicott in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.  

The Gulls return sophomore Emily Whitney who was the scoring leader last year with 50 goals and 12 assists, and senior Ellie Clayman who scored 37 times and assisted 10 others last year.  The biggest holes to fill will be from graduating Callie Murphy, who had 42 goals and 44 assists last season, and Rachel Socolow, who played almost all of the time in the net for the Gulls last season.  The Jumbos won when the two teams faced off last year, 15-10, and own a 9-0 advantage in the series, dating back to 1999.

Men’s Indoor Track and Field: Friday at Tufts Last Chance Meet

This past weekend was another one of running great times for the men’s indoor track and field team.  The 4x400-meter relay team ran the fastest time in school history by a shade with a 3:15.34 time at the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championships hosted by Boston University.  

The Tufts foursome of freshman Andrew DeMaiti, junior Alex Kasemir, junior Mitchell Black and junior Francis Goins combined on the time, which was fourth out of the 25 teams entered in the event.  The finish is 0.01 faster than the previous mark of 3:15.35 that Black, Kasemir, Goins and graduate teammate Graham Beutler ran last season.  Converted to a 3:18.47 because of the banked track at BU, the time ranks the Jumbo 4x4 sixth nationally at the moment.

Also performing well for the Jumbos on Saturday was junior Veer Bhalla who scored three points for Tufts with a sixth place finish in the 800 final.  He recorded a time of 1:54.36, with a time of 1:52.54 in the preliminaries.  Neither of those times improved upon his 10th-ranked national time of 1:53.90 in the event.

This weekend the men will compete in the Tufts Last Chance Meet at the Gantcher Center on Friday, March 6. Last year the Jumbos had success in having their athletes qualify for NCAA’s at this meet and they will be hoping for the same this year.  IN addition to Black running and setting the pace in the 800, many of the mid distance and distance runners will be looking to run season best times this weekend.  Many of the field event competitors and hurdlers will use this weekend to kick-start the outdoors season, with this being their final indoor meet and the outdoor season right around the corner.

Women’s Indoor Track and Field: Friday and Saturday at ECAC Division III Championships

This past weekend the women’s indoor track and field team traveled just across the city to compete with the best in New England on Friday and Saturday.  Junior Marilyn Allen matched her own school record in the 60-meter hurdles and scored at the 47th New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championships hosted by Boston University.  Allen’s time of 8.90 seconds in the final was sixth overall at the meet, and scored three points for the Jumbos.  She was the only Division III competitor in the final.  The time matched the 8.90 she ran at home on February 7, which broke her 8.96 record set last year.  The 8.90 is currently ranked #13 on the NCAA Division III performance list for the event.

Friday’s highlight came from the distance medley relay team, which ran one of the nation’s top times.  Running on the banked track at BU, the foursome timed 11:53.98 to place fifth out of 17 at the meet.  Leading off, junior Sydney Smith (1,200 leg) posted a 3:36.9, followed by classmate Rita Donohoe (400 leg) in 58.9, senior Lauren Gormer (800 leg) in 2:14.9 and Kelly Fahey (1,600 leg) in 5:03. The time was adjusted to 12:01.62, which is currently ranked 11th nationally.  The original mark was the fifth best in team history.

This weekend the women will have many chances to run qualifying times for NCAA’s.  On Friday, they will compete in the Tufts Last Chance Meet in the Gantcher Center.  It is possible Jumbos will compete in the ECAC’s and IC4A’s on Friday and Saturday as well in efforts to post qualifying times and numbers.

Women’s Fencing: Sunday at NCAA Northeast Regional Championships

The Tufts women’s fencing team will be back in action after a two week break this weekend.  The women last competed at the Northeast Fencing Conference’s Championship Meet on February 21.  The women are currently in seventh place in the conference standings with seven victories.  Brown is in first place with 12 victories, just ahead of Sacred Heart with 11 victories and Boston College, Brandeis and MIT all have nine victories just ahead of the Jumbos.

This weekend the Jumbos will travel to New York to compete in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships hosted by NYU on Sunday, March 8.  Competing in the epee for the Jumbos will be senior Flora Lang,  sophomore Anna Gooch, and first-years Grace Tellado and Anne Oursler.  In the sabre weapon senior Sarah Innes-Gold, junior Alexandra Boden and rookie Bridget Marturano will compete.  Sophomore Juliet Hewes will be the only foil competing for the Jumbos.