Introduction of 2010 Men's Lacrosse Team, presented by Casey D'Annolfo, Tufts Head Men's Lacrosse Coach
I have heard it said that when Tufts assistant football and assistant men’s lacrosse coach Mike Daly was hired to be the head coach of the Tufts men’s lacrosse program in 1998, it was a bit of a head-scratcher for some members of the lacrosse community. After all, while Coach Daly had won the Fobert Award for excelling in football and baseball as a student-athlete at Tufts, he had never even played the game of lacrosse.
But soon enough, the doubters started to become believers. Joined over the years by a strong group of assistant coaches like Pat Cain, Dan Kollar, Mike Higgins, Scott Rynne and Brett Holm, Coach Daly and his staff worked tirelessly to build the program into a contender. And by 2003, playing an up-tempo style that was new to the game, the Jumbos already found themselves competing for a NESCAC championship.
By 2010, the Jumbos had developed into a consistent NESCAC contender but were looking to establish the program nationally and were still seeking their first NESCAC title. Led by returning All-Americans DJ Hessler and Eytan Saperstein, the 2010 Jumbos won their first 10 games that season, which was both the best start and the longest winning streak in the team’s history.
In their 11th game of the 2010 season, the Jumbos lost 8-6 to fellow unbeaten Connecticut College. It was a disappointing loss for the Jumbos to be sure, but it was also a powerful motivator – as it turned out, the Jumbos wouldn’t lose another game all season long.
After finishing the NESCAC regular season at 8-1 and earning the right to host the NESCAC championship at home, Tufts began its magical post-season run with two one-goal victories over Williams and Middlebury. And in the championship game, the Jumbos claimed their elusive first NESCAC title in exciting fashion. Facing a 4-goal deficit, the Jumbos netted six unanswered goals to defeat Middlebury 13-12 at Bello Field.
Moving on to the NCAA tournament, Tufts beat Endicott and Middlebury to earn a spot in the national semifinal at the home of the defending national champion, Cortland State. In that hard-fought game, which was highlighted by sophomore Kevin McComick’s game-winner with 3 minutes to play and some strong play in goal by sophomore Steven Foglietta in the final seconds, the Jumbos overcame a 6-3 halftime deficit to win 10-9.
The Final Four win at Cortland earned the Jumbos a trip to the NCAA Championship Game in Baltimore where they faced another stout opponent in eight-time national champion Salisbury University. In that game, the Jumbos excelled at every position on the field and in all aspects of the game. They jumped out to a 7-1 lead and never looked back.
The Jumbos defeated the Gulls 9-6 that day. They finished their season with a 20-1 record, and they won the first NCAA team championship in the history of Tufts Athletics.
"It was an outstanding effort on Tufts' part today," Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said at the post-game press conference. "A lot of things that we didn't do well weren't a result of us not doing them well, it was because of their efforts. Coach Daly did a great job with that team. They had a great run, and our hats are off to them as the 2010 national champions."
Building on the already rich history and tradition of athletics success at Tufts over many decades and across all sports, this magical 2010 men’s lacrosse season was another important turning point in the evolution of Tufts Athletics. Their historic performance demonstrated that winning an NCAA team championship was an attainable goal for the Jumbos, and it helped open the door to eight more NCAA team championships for Tufts over the next seven years not only in men’s lacrosse, but also in field hockey, softball and men’s soccer.