Western New England Spooks No. 1 Tufts
from press release
MEDFORD - In an outstanding game between New England Division III heavyweights, the #1 Tufts University men's lacrosse team earned a 14-13 victory over Western New England College (WNEC) on Monday afternoon at Bello Field.
The visiting Golden Bears rallied from a 9-4 halftime deficit to tie the score at 10-10 heading into the fourth quarter. Junior Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ) scored two of Tufts' four goals in the fourth and the Jumbos (6-0) were able to hold off WNEC (5-3) for their 16th straight victory.
Kirwan had four goals total and now has 26 on the season, while senior All-American D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) led all scorers with seven points on three goals and four assists. Junior face-off man Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA) won 22 of 31 draws for Tufts.
Junior Patrick White (Milton, MA) scored three goals to lead the Golden Bears, who had 10 players score goals in all. Senior Mike Santare (South Salem, NY) had two goals and junior Jonathan Roy (Lewiston, ME) finished with a goal and two assists.
WNEC junior goalie Brewster Knowlton (Somers, CT) looked like he was going to steal the show early. He made seven first-quarter saves, but Tufts was able to take a 3-2 lead after one period as Hessler recorded a goal and two assists.
The teams traded goals for 11 minutes in the second quarter, with the Golden Bears pulling within 5-4 on a tally by freshman defenseman Jack Liacos (Beverly, MA) with 3:55 remaining until halftime. However, the Jumbos scored four goals in that span, including two by junior Kevin McCormick (Laytonsville, MD), and had a 9-4 advantage at the break.
WNEC quickly shifted the momentum in the third quarter, scoring four times in the first 5:44. They were within 9-8 on Roy's goal at the 9:16 mark. Tufts senior Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) scored to interupt the WNEC run at 6:59, but Joe O'Keefe (Branford, CT) and Corrigan Harreys (Deep River, CT) reignited the visitors with goals that made it a 10-10 game after three.
Hessler and senior Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY) scored 35 seconds apart early in the fourth for a 12-10 lead that the Jumbos would not relinquish. However, there were plenty of anxious moments for the hosts as the Golden Bears pulled to within one on three occasions. A man-up goal by WNEC junior Nick Jez (Somers, CT) made it 14-13 with 1:06 on the clock.
Golden Bear junior Joe Martin (Springfield, MA) won the ensuing face-off and WNEC had two shots that went wide. On the second, a hustle play by Tufts sophomore Sam Diss (Ridgewood, NJ) earned possession for Tufts. However, while trying to run out the clock, Tufts turned the ball over with 14 seconds remaining. WNEC was unable to get a shot off and the final horn sounded.
Tufts' advantages in the team statistics were largely due to the first half. They finished with a 57-40 shots margin for the game, including 36-14 in the first half. They also dominated ground balls 26-12 in the first half and 46-21 overall. The Jumbos won 12 of 15 first-half face-offs (22 of 31 overall) and forced the Golden Bears into nine failed clears during the first 30 minutes. Both teams scored two man-up goals in a game that featured 11 penalties.
Knowlton finished with 15 saves for WNEC. Freshman Patton Watkins (Chattanooga, TN) relieved starter Steven Foglietta (Oceanside, NY) for Tufts and earned his first collegiate win with two saves in the fourth quarter.
Tufts will host Wesleyan in NESCAC action at Bello Field on Saturday at 1 pm. The Golden Bears play a Commonwealth Coast Conference game at Salve Regina on Wednesday.