MEDFORD - For the second straight year, the seniors on the Tufts University men's lacrosse team will miss Commencement because the team is playing in the semi-finals of the NCAA Championship. However, Tufts President Larry Bacow once again come through and spearheaded a special graduation ceremony for the Jumbos that took place on Friday morning.
The Tufts team, defending national champions, will be in Rochester, New York this weekend and on Sunday they will play RIT with a berth into the NCAA Final on the line. Game time is 1 pm.
On Friday before the team left, President Bacow presided over a lacrosse commencement ceremony for seniors Alec Bialosky (Moreland Hills, OH), Tom Bragg (Bath, ME), Brian Donovan (St. James, NY), Josh Gudjohnsen (Bethany, CT), D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD), Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY), T.C. Neuhs (Rockville Centre, NY) and Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY).
Last year, the team left for Cortland, New York after an early graduation event and came from behind to defeat the Red Dragons 10-9 in the national semis. The Jumbos went on to win Tufts' first-ever NCAA team title against Salisbury, 9-6. This year, they will face an undefeated RIT team (19-0) for the NCAA North crown on Sunday.
The team's special commencement ceremony and continued success on the national level attracted some media attention this week. The Boston Globe's Craig Larson wrote about it in a sports blog here:
The Metro-Boston edition also carried an item:
Tufts News is currently running this piece about the team:
At the moment, there is no live coverage planned for Sunday's game. There is no internet connection at RIT's turf field on which the game will be played. Any news about live coverage will be posted as soon as possible.
The Jumbos advanced to Sunday with a 10-9 win over Cortland at home on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. Tufts led 10-4 early in the fourth quarter and then had to weather a furious comeback by the Red Dragons. It was the second straight year that Tufts eliminated Cortland from the NCAA's.
Coach Mike Daly's Jumbos had received the New England Small College Athletic Conference's (NESCAC) automatic berth into the NCAA's by dramatically winning their second straight conference title. Senior Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) scored with 0.4 seconds left in the semi-finals for an 11-10 win over Bowdoin, and then junior Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ) scored in overtime for a 13-12 victory against Middlebury in the final. During the regular season, Tufts had earned the #1 seed in NESCAC with an 8-1 record.
The Jumbos received an NCAA first-round bye and opened the defense of their title with a 6-5 victory over Union College at Bello last Saturday. This is the fourth NCAA berth for the Jumbo program under Coach Daly, and the third in a row. Tufts is now 7-2 overall in NCAA Tournament play.
For the first time since 1999 and fifth time in program history, the RIT men's lacrosse team advanced to the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament Semif-inals after a 15-10 win over Amherst College in the quarterfinals on Wednesday afternoon at the RIT Turf Field.
Sunday's winner will advance to the National Championship game on May 29 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.