MEDFORD – The fourth-ranked Tufts University men's lacrosse team gained sole possession of first place in the New England Small Athletic Conference (NESCAC) after defeating Bates 19-14 on April 16 at Bello Field in which senior co-captain Ben Connelly netted a career-high seven goals. The Jumbos followed that performance up with a 23-14 victory over Middlebury on Seniors Day with Connelly adding four goals and two assists. He received NESCAC Player of the Week honors.
Tufts now owns a 13-1 overall record and is 8-1 in conference action. The Jumbos close out the regular-season on Wednesday night when they travel to Bowdoin College with a chance to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the NESCAC Tournament.
One of 14 seniors on a very experienced Tufts team, Connelly is a leader in a Jumbos' offense that has posted the second-most goals per game in the NESCAC with an 18.00 goals per game. He has a goal in all 14 games this year and 37 in total and has also recorded 16 assists, including three in the Jumbos' 15-14 victory at Amherst on April 13. Connelly's 53 points ranke eighth in the league.
Connelly earned All-American honors after a fantastic junior season in which he had a team-leading 61 goals and dished out 21 assists in 20 games. As a sophomore, he netted 30 goals and had 17 assists in 19 games. He was also a freshman member of the 2016 Tufts team that reached the NCAA Championship Game. In his career, he has a total of 129 goals and 54 assists for 183 points (ninth all-time among Jumbos).
From Kenilworth, Ill., Connelly is an American Studies major. Over his four years Tufts has posted an impressive 64-12 overall record and has won two NESCAC titles. In last season's NESCAC Championship game, Connelly netted four goals and had an assist in the Jumbos' 12-9 win over Wesleyan. In the NCAA Tournament, he has scored 13 goals in 10 career games.
GoTuftsJumbos.com recently caught up with Connelly to get to know him a little better…
Question: What were the deciding factors in enrolling at Tufts?
Answer: The academic reputation was extremely attractive to me in deciding to come here. In terms of lacrosse, I found the culture to be better than anywhere else in the country. Overall, Tufts seemed to offer everything I could ask for as a student-athlete.
Q: What age did you begin to play lacrosse and when did you think you could continue playing at the collegiate level?
A: My dad taught me how to play when I was probably seven years old. When my older brother Jack started to be recruited and ended up playing lacrosse in college (at Providence and Johns Hopkins) I knew that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. He gave me a lot of confidence during middle school and high school to keep practicing.
Q: Of your 118 career goals, which one has been the most memorable?
A: Probably my first career goal during my freshman year. It was a lefty shot on the run - one of about four lefty goals I have scored in my career. I just remember seeing the ball hit the net and feeling so happy that I had actually scored a goal in a college lacrosse game.
Q: What are your teams goals coming down the stretch?
A: We want to finish the regular-season strong, and our ultimate goals are to win the NESCAC and a national championship.
Q: What advantage do you think your team will have in NESCAC's having 14 seniors?
A: Having a big group of seniors has been great. I think with each guy in the senior class having a unique perspective to offer the younger guys on the team has helped the group grow a lot closer over the course of the year.
Q: What impact has the coaching staff had in developing your game over your four years?
A: They have done a great job at teaching me that there are a million ways to make an impact on a game. As long as you are putting in the effort, the results will come. It has been a great experience getting to play for all of them these past few years.
Q: If you could meet one professional athlete, who would it be and why?
A: Michael Jordan. It would be pretty cool to meet one of the best athletes and winners of all time. I'm not great at golf, but playing a round with him would be a great time.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Miracle. I can watch it all the time and never get sick of it.
Q: What is your favorite home cooked meal?
A: Everything my mom makes is great, but her lasagna is my favorite. For dessert it would have to be a slice of carrot cake she makes from scratch.
Compiled By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello