MEDFORD – The Amherst College men's lacrosse team advanced to its first ever NCAA semi-final with a 13-11 victory over NESCAC rival Tufts University in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament at Bello Field on Wednesday.
Mammoth sophomore goalie Gib Versfeld made 14 of his 19 saves in the first half and junior Dylan Finazzo won 17 of 26 face-offs as Amherst improved to 17-3 overall. The Mammoth defense held the Jumbos to their second-fewest goals in a game this season.
Tufts saw its season end with the 19-2 record. The NESCAC champions were led today by five goals from sophomore Garrett Samuelson.
Amherst never trailed in the game after getting out to a 2-0 lead on goals by senior Brogan Mahon and junior Matt Solberg in the first three minutes. The Jumbos would get four of the next six and tied the game at 4-4 on a tally by sophomore Max Waldbaum at 5:50 of the opening period. Samuelson scored twice during the Jumbo stretch.
The visiting Mammoths would gain control of the game over the next 23 minutes of play by outscoring the Jumbos 7-1 to lead 11-5 early in the third quarter. A long-stick goal by sophomore James Crovatto was the first of three for Amherst to end the first quarter with a 7-4 lead.
The Mammoths had late goals by senior Evan Wolf with nine seconds remaining in the first quarter and another by junior Jackson Herrick with 13 seconds left in the second quarter. After taking a 9-5 lead into intermission, Wolf and junior Jon Coffey scored the first two goals of the second half giving the visitors the 11-5 advantage at 12:06 of the third.
Tufts mounted a comeback by registering the next five goals including back-to-back tallies by senior Ben Connelly that brought the margin down to 11-10 early in the fourth quarter. Senior Danny Murphy and Matt Treiber both had a goal and an assist during the run. After Coffey scored for Amherst at the 12-minute mark, Samuelson netted his fifth of the game to close Tufts within a goal again at 12-11 with 10:27 on the fourth-quarter clock.
However, the Jumbos were unable to net the equalizer. Versfeld made a pair of saves on Samuelson before Solberg scored with 2:15 remaining to give the guests a two-goal lead (13-11). Amherst won the ensuing face-off with junior Jimmy McAfee getting the ground ball. The Mammoths ran the clock down to under 1:30 before calling a time-out. With less than a minute remaining the Mammoths turned the ball over, but the Jumbos were not able to put a shot on goal before turning it over themselves effectively ending the game.
Wolf led Amherst with six points on three goals and three assists while Coffey scored three times and Solberg recorded two goals with an assist. McAfee finished with seven ground balls and junior Logan Lair collected four.
Treiber and Connelly both finished with two goals and an assist for the Jumbos. Senior Brian Powers and sophomore Jack Walton caused pair of turnovers each defensively and senior Stewart Stockdale earned four groundballs. Junior goalie Mason Pollack made 16 saves, including 13 in the second and third quarters combined when Amherst put 17 shots on net.
Total shots were 48-47 for Amherst and the Mammoths won the ground-ball battle 35-28.
Amherst will play rival Williams College in the national semifinal on Sunday. The Ephs defeated the RIT Tigers 12-11 in the second overtime of today's quarterfinal game.