MEDFORD - Tufts Athletics enjoyed a Jumbo amount of success during the 2018 fall season. Listed below are the top 10 achievements from the past few months as selected by the Athletics Communications office.
You know it was an excellent season when a team that advanced to the NCAA Championship Game isn't even among the top two moments. That's because Jumbos won two national championships this fall. Five Tufts teams qualified for NCAA competition overall, leading us to a second-place ranking out of more than 400 schools in the NCAA Division III Fall Standings for the 2018-19 Learfield Directors' Cup. The Jumbos were the top-scoring team in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) through the fall.
We also recognized a pair of underdog teams who put their best efforts forth when it mattered most during the fall, as well as the academic accomplishments earned by several squads. Some of our top individual highlights are also included.
We hope you enjoy this review of the 2018 fall season, and Happy New Year from Tufts Athletics!
10. Women's sailing freshman Abbie Carlson qualifies for single-handed Nationals
Freshman Abbie Carlson of the Tufts sailing team competed at the 2018 Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) Single-handed Nationals November 3-4 in Macatawa, Michigan. She qualified by placing fourth out of 11 sailors at the New England Single-handed Championship, where the top five moved on to the national championship regatta. Carlson locked in her national berth by winning the 11th and final race of the New England championship. She had only three finishes of seventh or worse during the 11 New England races and was the runner-up in the fourth start. The Jumbo first-year placed 13th at the national championship event.
9. Volleyball wins New England Challenge vs. region's best
Though it was an up-and-down season for Tufts Volleyball overall, the Jumbos showed how good they could be by winning the New England Challenge hosted by MIT October 19-20. The event showcased nearly all of the top teams in the region and Tufts came out on top with wins over Springfield (3-0), Babson (3-1) and host MIT (3-1). The three teams Tufts defeated were all among the top seven in the NCAA New England regional rankings and totaled a combined record of 75-22. Tufts senior co-captain Mackenzie Bright earned New England Challenge Most Valuable Player honors and sophomore Jennifer Ryan was named to the All-Tournament Team.
8. Men's Cross Country rallies at Regional for NCAA berth
After finishing seventh at the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship which Tufts hosted on October 27, the Jumbo men’s cross country team looked like a long shot at best to qualify for the 2018 NCAA Championship Race. However, the Jumbos rallied to finish fifth out of 58 teams at the NCAA Regional Championship hosted by Bowdoin College on November 10 and then received an at-large berth into the NCAA Championship field. The NCAA team berth was the first for the Jumbos since 2015. The Jumbos also had 11 of Tufts’ 58 Academic All-NESCAC honorees (3.5 GPA +), the most of any men’s team at Tufts.
7. Golf surges on Sunday to earn NESCAC berth
The Tufts golf team qualified for the NESCAC Championship after an epic Sunday round at the conference qualifier hosted by Wesleyan on September 30. With the top four teams at the Qualifier making the conference championship field, Tufts was five strokes out of fourth place after Saturday's 304 score. However, their four-best scores on Sunday totaled to a stellar 291 and they moved past Williams College to secure the fourth and final spot with a 595 total. This is the second straight year that Tufts qualified for the conference championship. Last year marked the first time that Tufts had been one of the four teams to advance to the conference championship since the Qualifier was instituted in 2007.
6. Women's Soccer Wins 1st NCAA Game Since 2007
The Jumbo women's soccer team's resurgence continued this fall as the team earned their second straight NCAA Tournament berth. Tufts then defeated Penn State Behrend 2-0 in an NCAA 1st Round game played at William Smith College in Geneva, New York on November 10. The NCAA win – led by two goals in the first 15 minutes from sophomore Liz Reed – was Tufts’ first since the 2007 season. In the second round against host William Smith – who has the most NCAA Tournament appearances in Division III – the Jumbos took a heart-breaking 1-0, double-overtime loss. The Jumbos’ 11 wins this fall were also the most for the program since 2007.
5. Football finishes 7-2 for 4th straight winning season
The Jumbos finished the season at 7-2, becoming just the sixth Tufts team since 1960 to win seven or more games. They finished unbeaten at home (4-0), including a thrilling 16-13 victory against Wesleyan in the second night game in Tufts history on September 22. Their 35-13 win at Middlebury in the season finale on November 10 was also the 25th win for the Tufts seniors, tying them with the 1982 seniors for the most victories by a Jumbo football class. Senior quarterback Ryan McDonald was co-NESCAC Offensive Player of the Year and recipient of the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston’s Joe Zabilski Award, which recognizes New England's top offensive player in Divisions II/III.
4. Natalie Bettez wins All-New England women’s cross country race, team 12th at NCAA's
One of the fall’s top-performing teams for several years now, Women’s Cross Country again provided signature moments. On October 6, Tufts senior Natalie Bettez won the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) race featuring Division I, III and III teams from around the region. She was just the second Tufts runner to win the race, joining Kathy Whitcomb who won the inaugural NEICAAA Championship 43 years ago in 1975. The Jumbo team went on to qualify for its sixth straight NCAA Championship Race and finished 12th nationally. Their 15 Academic All-NESCAC recipients (3.5 GPA +) were the most out of any fall team at Tufts.
3. Field Hockey finishes as NCAA runner-up
For the second time in three seasons, the Jumbo field hockey team advanced to the NCAA National Championship game which was played in Manheim, Pennsylvania on November 18. After failing to qualify for NCAA’s last year, Tufts rebounded this fall by matching the school record with 19 victories and finishing as the conference runner-up. The Jumbos’ advanced to the NCAA Final Four with a dramatic penalty-strokes victory at host Salisbury University on November 11. Tufts then eliminated Johns Hopkins 3-1 in the national semifinals to earn their fourth berth into the national championship game. NESCAC rival Middlebury defeated Tufts in the final, but Tufts was firmly established as the #2 team in the nation.
2. Men’s Tennis sophomore Boris Sorkin wins ITA singles national championship
Completing a spectacular fall tennis season, sophomore Boris Sorkin won the 2018 Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) Cup Division III singles national championship on October 13 in Georgia. Sorkin came from behind to defeat Chad Leduff from UC Santa Cruz 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. Considered the fall tennis national championship, he was the first Jumbo to win this title. Sorkin had earned a berth into the ITA Cup by winning the ITA New England title on September 30 outlasting Bowdoin College's Jerry Jiang. In Georgia, Sorkin had come back from a set down to defeat #1 seed Jonathan Jemison from Emory in the semi-finals and started ITA Cup play by advancing past Jake Trondson from Hamline in the quarterfinals.
1. Men's Soccer wins 5th NCAA Championship
The Tufts men's soccer team won its third NCAAChampionship in the last five years on December 1 with a 2-1 victory over Calvin College in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Jumbos became just the fifth program in NCAA Division III history to win three national championships, all under head coach Josh Shapiro. Including a 3-1 victory against Rochester in the NCAA semifinals on November 30, the Jumbos finished the season unbeaten (18-0-3). With three team members – Joe Braun, Gavin Tasker and Sterling Weatherbie – selected to the 2018 United Soccer Coaches Scholar All-America Teams, the national champion Jumbos were the Division III leader with that achievement as well.