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No. 6 Tufts Lacrosse Outlasts No. 5 Wesleyan, 12-9, in NESCAC Title Game

Photo by Jonas Powell '18
Photo by Jonas Powell '18

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Ben Connelly '19, Andrew Seiter '18 and Danny Murphy '19 combined for 14 points for the No. 6-ranked Tufts University men's lacrosse team during a 12-9 win over No. 5 Wesleyan University in the NESCAC championship game on Sunday afternoon, as the Jumbos took the lead for good with four unanswered goals in the second half at Jackson Field in Middletown, Conn.

The top-seeded Cardinals (14-3, 9-1 NESCAC) were led by a five-goal performance by senior Taylor Ghesquiere, while juniors Carter Hawthorne (two goals, three assists) and Christian Barker (one goal, three assists) also played tremendously for Wesleyan. Tufts (16-1, 9-1) captured their eighth all-time NESCAC title, as Connelly (four goals, one assist), Murphy (two goals, three assists) and Seiter (three goals, one assist) led the charge.

The third-seeded Jumbos earned an automatic berth onto the national stage, and Wesleyan will learn its NCAA Tournament fate during the airing of the selection show on Sunday at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.

HOW IT HAPPENED:

  • Barker put the Cardinals on the board first with three minutes, 38 seconds elapsed off the clock in the opening period, sending a bouncing shot into the cage off a heads-up, behind-the-net feed from Hawthorne.
  • Tufts responded with two unanswered goals, and four of the next five. Jumbos sophomore Matt Treiber put a pass from the behind the net right into the stick of Murphy in front of the net, and the Hauppauge, N.Y. native took his time and calmly sent a shot past the goalie, tying the game at 1-1 with 10:12 left in the first.
  • Tufts goalie Mason Pollack, who hails from Arlington, Va., made an outstanding save with 5:50 left in the period on a shot by Cardinals junior midfielder Scott Irwin from the right side. With 4:38 showing on the scoreboard, senior Harry Stanton rifled a turnaround shot from the right doorstep, but Pollack stood tall again.
  • Seiter put the Jumbos up 2-1 with a goal from distance on the right side with 3:46 remaining. Hawthorne evened the score at 2-2 one minute, 44 seconds later, sneaking up on the left edge of the crease, and netting a perfect pass from Barker.
  • Tufts took the lead at 3-2 on a man-up goal by Connelly with 13:45 left in the second. The Jumbos extended their lead to two with an even-strength goal eight minutes, 28 seconds later, as freshman Garrett Samuelson beat Cardinals sophomore goalie Otto Bohan short side on the right.
  • Ghesquiere stepped up for the Cardinals with back-to-back goals, 55 seconds apart. He buried a shot from the edge of the left attacking side following an outstanding fake to get the defender out of the shooting lane with 4:23 left, and then launched a bullet on the move toward his right, evening the game at 4-4 with 3:28 on the clock.
  • Each team struck one more time in the first half, as Stanton scored top shelf, and then Seiter responded with 16 seconds left in the half, finding the back of the net off a great cut down the middle of the lane.
  • The game was even at 5-5 at the start of the second half, and Wesleyan went up 7-6 with 6:01 remaining in the third quarter on a goal by Hawthorne. The Jumbos scored the final three goals of the third, with the last one coming during a crucial segment. Pollack made an outstanding save on freshman Ronan Jacoby with 1:39 left in the frame, and then 21 seconds later, Tufts senior Holden Rosen Grupp buried a shot in stride, pushing the lead up to 9-7.
  • A goal by Connelly 15 seconds into the fourth gave Tufts a three-goal edge, but Ghesquiere fired back for Wesleyan with 10 minutes left, trimming the deficit to 10-8. A pivotal part of the game occurred with 9:19 left when junior Arend Broekmate was sent to the box for Tufts with a two-minute penalty for an illegal body check, but the Jumbos were able to kill off the entire infraction. The unit then carried the momentum into even-strength play and went up 11-8, 45 seconds after the end of the penalty on a goal by Connelly.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS:

  • Pollack (13-1) earned the win in net, stopping 16-of-25 shots, and Bohan (12-2) suffered the loss, finishing with nine saves.
  • Sophomore Jack Donohue tallied a game-high eight ground balls for Tufts, and senior Andres Rodriguez led Wesleyan with seven. The Jumbos led the overall category, 35-34.
  • The Cardinals held a decisive advantage in shots, 46-32, and led the shots-on-goal category, 25-21.
  • Wesleyan went 15-for-25 at the faceoff dot, with sophomore Zach Zavalick going 13-for-21. The hosts were charged with 14 turnovers, and the visitors made 13.
  • The all-time series between Wesleyan and Tufts is all even through 56 games with both teams holding 28-28 records.
  • The Cardinals' loss snaps their 22-game home winning streak, dating back to the 2016 season.

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

  • With five more points today, Hawthorne reached the 200-point milestone for his career. Additionally, he tied the single-season program record in assists (55), which he set last year, and moved into second place in Wesleyan history in career assists with 121.