MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Tufts junior Emily Games netted a game-high four goals to guide the second-seeded Jumbos to an 11-8 victory over third-seed Wesleyan in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Women's Lacrosse Championship semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Middlebury College's Kohn Field. Tufts will play number-one seed Middlebury at 1 pm in the NESCAC Championship game on Sunday.
|Grazewski scooped up five ground balls, scored a goal, and had an assist|
Following the win, Tufts improves to 16-1 overall and has reached the NESCAC Championship Game for the first time in program history. With the loss, Wesleyan falls to 14-3 overall and will await a potential at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Tufts defeated Wesleyan both times they played the Cardinals this season.
The Jumbos recorded the first goal of the game less than two minutes into the action when junior Maddie Norman netted a free-position goal. Tufts senior Courtney Grygiel then had a pair of shots denied by Wesleyan junior goalie Allegra Grant. The Jumbos found the back of the net again with 25:55 left in the first half when Games converted a free-position goal. Games then scored another free-position goal a minute later to give the Jumbos a 3-0 edge. Cardinal senior Caitlin Wood recorded the team's first shot of the game, but it was saved by Tufts senior goalie Audrey Evers. Grygiel extended the Jumbos' run to 4-0 by netting Tufts' fourth free-position goal of the contest.
Games was knocking on the doorstep again less than two minutes later, but Grant made the save on the free-position shot. The Cardinal offense finally broke through against the Jumbos' defense as Wood scored with 18:17 left in the half to cut the lead to three goals. Then Wood scored again two minutes later off a free-position shot to lower the deficit to 4-2. After each goalie recorded saves, Tufts first-year Kathryn Delaney rifled a shot that beat Grant to push the Jumbo lead back to three goals (5-2).
Wesleyan senior Abigail Horst had a chance hit the post and go wide after the Delaney goal. Delaney and Games then earned free-position attempts towards the end of the half, but Grant again recorded saves to keep the Cardinals in the contest. The Wesleyan offense ended the first half with two consecutive goals from junior Abby Manning and first-year Izzy Powell to narrow the Jumbos' head to 5-4 at the half. Wesleyan junior Julia Gretsky had a chance to tie it before the half with 0:10 left, but Evers made a save.
Grygiel opened the second half with a free-position goal to extend the lead back to two goals (6-4). Tufts senior Annie Sullivan and Grygiel each had chances within the first three minutes of action saved by Grant. Jumbo sophomore Kirsten Grazewski then recorded the first assist of the game when she found Norman to give Tufts a three-goal lead (7-4) less than four minutes into the second half. Horst came right back with a free-position goal to cut the deficit back to two goals. Gretsky, Wood, and sophomore Kat Cucullo each had good looks at the goal after the Horst goal, but were denied by Tufts first-year goalie Molly Laliberty.
Sullivan would then go on to score another Jumbo free-position goal to take an 8-5 lead with 19:04 remaining. Laliberty came up big after the Sullivan goal with stops on shots from Gretsky and sophomore Johanna Copeland. Games went on to net a free-position goal to push the lead to 9-5. Manning and Grazewski then traded goals in the next three minutes of action. Games scored her fourth goal of the afternoon with 6:31 remaining after junior Lily Baldwin won the draw control. Cucullo and Manning scored the contest's final two goals, but Tufts went on to the 11-8 win.
Tufts outshot Wesleyan 29-27 on the afternoon. The Jumbos won 12 draw controls to the Cardinals' nine. Tufts scooped up 20 ground balls and Wesleyan recorded 17. Both teams were over 75 percent in clear attempts and there were a combined 27 turnovers in the game. The Jumbos took advantage of their free-position opportunities by converting seven of them.
Grygiel and Norman each contributed two goals for the Jumbos. Grazewski led the game with five ground balls while also recording a goal and an assist. Sullivan and Delaney had the other Jumbo goals. Laliberty recorded a team-high seven saves in the second half.
Manning led the Cardinal offense with three goals and an assist. Wood also contributed two goals. Cucullo had a goal and two assists. Horst and Powell each added a goal as well. Grant scooped up a team-high three ground balls and had 12 saves in the game.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello