Samuelson Goal Lifts #6 Men's Lacrosse Over #5 Amherst in Another Close One

AMHERST – In a year that's already seen a handful of extremely close games and it's only mid-April, the sixth-ranked Tufts University men's lacrosse team earned a 15-14 win at fifth-ranked Amherst College in NESCAC action Saturday afternoon. It was Tufts' third straight game (all in NESCAC) decided by one goal.

Junior goalie Mason Pollack finished with 19 saves and scored his second goal of the season.

Tufts led 10-1 in the second quarter and 13-4 with five minutes gone in the third period before the host Mammoths stormed back. Amherst would tie the game at 14-14 on a goal by Colin Minicus at 4:02 of the fourth quarter.

However, Jumbo sophomore Kyle Helfrich won the next draw on a violation. After a shot by junior Nick Shanks went wide, Tufts senior Matt Treiber set up sophomore Garrett Samuelson for the game-winning goal at 3:15 of the fourth. Jumbo junior goalie Mason Pollack, who scored the first goal of the game for his second tally of the season, made two of his 19 saves in the final three minutes of play to help preserve the win.

Tufts improves to 11-1 overall and is tied for first in NESCAC with Bates at 6-1. With the setback, Amherst falls to 11-2 on the season and to 6-2 in league play.

The Jumbos shut out the Mammoths in the first quarter while adding five goals to the board to take a 5-0 lead after 15 minutes of action. Pollack kicked off scoring for the visitors 28 seconds into the game, sending an unassisted dagger into the nylon before senior Ben Connelly dished out back-to-back assists to Nick Katz and Danny Murphy in a 42-second span to push Tufts' advantage to 3-0.  Sophomore Max Waldbaum found the back of the net at the 5:01 mark before Kyle Helfrich closed out the scoring in the stanza with an unassisted marker with 4:48 on the clock.

Continuing their unanswered run to open the game, Waldbaum and Brian Powers added goals to set the score at 7-0 Tufts.

Breaking through for Amherst at the 13:18 mark, senior Evan Wolf got the home team on the board off a dish from Minicus. However, that score was countered with a 3-0 run by the Jumbos that featured goals from Waldbaum, Treiber and Samuelson.

Looking to get some momentum going for Amherst before the break, senior Trenton Shore potted a man-up score at the 7:32 mark with an assist from junior Matt Solberg. Minicus then powered a feed from Wolf into the nylon two minutes later in what stood as the final goal of the first half to make it 10-3 at intermission.

A score by senior Jon Coffey with 12:57 on the clock cut the Mammoths' deficit to six, before Waldbaum, sophomore Bryce Adam and Connelly each beat the Amherst netminder to extend Tufts' lead to 13-4 with 9:45 remaining in the third.

Clawing back into contention in the latter half of the period, Amherst put together a 5-1 run to get back within five entering the fourth quarter. Senior Jack Norton sparked the momentum change for the Mammoths with an unassisted strike at the 12:57 mark before Solberg found junior Jackson Herrick for the score two minutes later. Potting his second and third goals in the stanza, Coffey sandwiched a goal from Solberg, while an answer from the Jumbos' Connelly with 1:08 on the clock made it 14-9.

The Mammoths shut out Tufts through the first 11:45 of the fourth period to erase a nine-goal deficit and deadlock the game at 14-14. Getting within four at the 11:39 mark, Herrick dished out a helper to Coffey, before Wolf teamed up with Minicus 29 seconds later to make it 14-11. A crank shot from 15 yards out from junior Luke Mallette brought the Mammoths within two, while Solberg made it a one score game with an unassisted marker with 8:12 to play.

Completing the comeback effort at the 4:02 mark, Minicus took the restart from the left corner, got the angle on his defender and sent a diving shot over the goal line to tie the contest at 14 all and set up a thriller down the stretch.

Recording what stood as the game-winner less than a minute later, Samuelson drove a pass from Treiber from 10 yards out into the top right corner.

Waldbaum netted four goals and dished out an assist to lead the Tufts attack, while Connelly added two scores and four helpers. Helfrich paced the Jumbos on face offs, going 10-for-22, while Stewart Stockdale, Jack Walton, Connelly and Arend Broekmate picked up five ground balls each. Both Stockdale and Broekmate also added three caused turnovers to lead the team.

Coffey headlined the Mammoths' offense with four goals, while Wolf tallied two scores and dished out three assists. Logan Lair went 15-for-29 at the face off X for Amherst, while James Crovatto and Robinson Armour posted team highs in caused turnovers and ground balls with three and four, respectively.

In between the pipes, Gib Versfeld (0-1) made 12 saves in the loss for Amherst in his first start of the spring.

The Mammoths owned the edge in shots (56-52) and face-offs (17-33) and went a perfect 1-for-1 up a man, while the Jumbos held a 47-38 advantage in ground balls and finished 0-for-1 on man-up opportunities.

Tufts and Bates play a battle for first place at Bello Field Tuesday night. Amherst returns to the field next Saturday when they travel to Bates.