Contact: Ben Badua
MEDFORD, Mass. – The 14th-ranked Amherst men's lacrosse team fell short in its quest for a first-ever NESCAC championship, dropping a hard-fought 20-13 decision to Tufts University in the 2014 title tilt on Bello Field.
Making its first-ever trip to the league's championship game, Amherst trailed 6-1 before mounting a furious comeback and tying it at 9-9 early in the third quarter. The seventh-ranked Jumbos responded by closing out the period on a 9-3 run to gain the separation it needed.
Falling to 14-4 (7-3 NESCAC) on the season, the Jeffs will now hope to receive an at-large bid to the upcoming NCAA Division III Championship when the full 30-team field is announced later this evening. Improving to 16-2 (9-1 NESCAC) overall, Tufts captured its fifth-straight NESCAC title and earned the league's automatic bid to the national tournament.
Giving the home team an early lead, Curt Townshend '16 and Chris Schoenhut '15 notched consecutive scores 1:03 apart to make it 2-0. An unassisted Devin Acton '14 tally at 10:41 put Amherst on the board, but Conor Helfrich '16 answered just seven seconds later.
Converting a man-up goal off a Cole Bailey '15 feed, Beau Wood '14 pushed the margin to 4-1. Kane Delaney '14 kept the Jumbos rolling with Tufts' third marker in a span of 2:01 before Wood capped off a 4-0 spurt. The Jeffs' Matt Killian '17 put the brakes on the visitors' dry-spell at the 5:25 mark of the first before Acton came in uncovered to bury his 50th of the season. After Wood again found the back of the net to extend the lead to 7-3, Quinn Moroney '16 came through with a wrap-around goal to close out a high-scoring opening period.
With Patrick Moroney '14 and John Uppgren exchanging goals in the first four minutes of the second to make it 8-5, Kane Haffey '16 beat goalie Patton Watkins '14 to suddenly pull the Jeffs within two. Schoenhut momentarily stemmed the Amherst tide with a marker at 9:27, but Aaron Mathias '14 made it a two-goal affair, moving to his left before rifling a shot inside the near post. Carrying the ball on the right side with less than a minute to go before the half, Dylan Park '16 connected on a long try to cut it to 9-8.
Just over two minutes after the restart, Acton helped bring the Jeffs even, finding a cutting Haffey for the equalizer at 12:57. Coming up with an answer just 52 seconds later, Peter Bowers '14 went five-hole on Greg Majno '14 to put the Jumbos back on top. Spinning off a defender less than a minute later, Bowers tacked on another score, sliding a shot inside the right post to put Tufts up 11-9.
Battling back, Amherst again went to Haffey, who scored from the left side. Tufts responded with four unanswered over a span of 2:15 to make it 15-10. Jack McDermott '14 got things started at 10:19 before Bowers and Jake Gillespie '16 had consecutive scores just 11 seconds apart. Uppgren capped off the run with a man-up goal off a Connor Bilby '16 assist at 8:04.
Amherst's Charlie Gill '16 scored at 7:34, but three more Jumbo markers from Schoenhut, Wood and Uppgren extended the Jeff deficit to 18-11. With three seconds left in the decisive third quarter, Haffey beat Watkins to pull the Purple & White within six, but Tufts would outscore the Jeffs 2-1 over the final 15 minutes to lock up its fifth-straight conference crown.
Despite winning just 17-of-37 face-offs and losing the ground ball battle 39-35, Amherst finished with a slim 54-51 edge in shots. Haffey had a team-high four goals, while Acton added two goals and two assists to up his career point total to 214. Quinn Moroney added a goal and two assists, while Patrick Moroney scored twice. Logging all 60 minutes in net, Majno finished with 10 saves.
Wood paced Tufts with a game-high five goals, while Schoenhut had four tallies. Uppgren had a hat-trick to go along with three assists with Bowers adding three goals and a helper. Backing up a balanced offensive effort that saw 13 different players record a point, Watkins made 24 saves in the win.