MEDFORD – New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rivals Tufts University and Williams College will bus 350-400 miles to Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania this week to meet in the NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16" on Saturday. Game time 1:30 pm.
Head coach Martha Whiting's Jumbos (14-3-2) advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament with a pair of victories in the Regional round over the weekend (Nov. 16-17). Tufts defeated SUNY Cortland 3-1 in the first round on Saturday and then beat Regional host The College of New Jersey 2-0 in the second round on Sunday.
This is Tufts' fourth time in the "Sweet 16" including 1998, 2000 and 2005.
"I am so proud of the way our team played this weekend," Whiting said. "After a very disappointing loss to Amherst in the NESCAC semifinal game we responded with incredible resilience and determination. Every player on the field and on the bench brought a level of energy and grit that we haven't seen in a while. We are so excited to be moving on to the round of 16 and can't wait to get on the field again next Saturday."
Williams College (10-5-3) has won the last two NCAA titles and three of the last four. However, they had to advance out of the second round on penalty kicks against MIT after a 2-1 win over Gettysburg in the first round.
Host Messiah (20-1-1) plays Trinity University (Texas) (17-3-1) in the other Sectional semifinal at the site. Either team would present a tremendous challenge to the Tufts-Williams winner in Sunday's Elite 8 game to be played at 1 pm. The Falcons are seeking their sixth national championship while making their 20th appearance in the tournament. The Tigers are playing in their 25th NCAA Tournament in search of their first title. Saturday's winners will play for a berth into the "Final Four" on Sunday.
Tufts finished as the #1 seed in NESCAC this fall with their 7-2-1 record. The Ephs were the third seed after a 6-3-1 conference mark. Both teams lost in the NESCAC semifinals and then received at large bids into the NCAA's. Williams defeated Tufts 2-1 in their regular-season encounter back on September 7 in Williamstown.
The Jumbos are making their third straight NCAA appearance and eighth overall. The two wins over the weekend improved their tournament record to 13-6-4. This is the furthest they have reached in the tournament since 2005 when they played in the "Final Four." Tufts was the 2000 national runner-up.
The Ephs are in their 12th straight NCAA appearance and 20th overall. They have a 43-16-10 mark after this past weekend's results.
The Jumbos earned a measure of revenge with their win over the TCNJ Lions on Sunday. It was TCNJ who defeated Tufts 2-1 on a goal with three seconds left in the 2000 NCAA Championship Game at the Jumbos' Kraft Field. Then in 2005 TCNJ eliminated Tufts from NCAA's with a 3-0 "Sweet 16" victory.
They'll be working towards doing something similar this weekend. Tufts hasn't defeated Williams since 2006, going 0-13-2 during that span. That streak includes the NESCAC Championship game in 2017, a 2-1 Ephs overtime win.
Host Messiah ranks in the top 10 nationally both offensively with 3.77 goals per game (seventh) and defensively at 0.27 goals against (fourth). Trinity (Texas) has marks of 3.00 goals for (24th nationally) and 0.44 against (13th). Tufts scores at a 2.19 goals per game pace and allows a 0.71 average, which is a top 50 national mark. Williams averages 1.70 for and 1.07 against.