MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tufts University women's lacrosse team is ready to get their 2018 campaign underway this weekend with a home game against Hamilton to get things started.
|Emily Games leads the attack last spring against Connecticut College.|
Last year, the team fnished with a 10-6 record and a 5-5 mark in conference play. Out of the 29-person squad, 21 of those athletes are returning from last season. In her fifth season as head coach, Courtney Shute and her staff will look to get a good balance of experience and youth with their eight sophomores, 10 juniors, three seniors, and eight new freshmen.
"Heading into a fresh season, our team is focused on getting a little bit better every day and competing hard each day we have the privilege to practice and play together," Shute said. "We are really focused on Tufts and how we can capitalize on the strengths within this group. The goal is always to stay in the moment and by doing that give ourselves the opportunity to play as many games as we can together."
The team decided not to have captains this season. Instead, the Jumbos will be led by a trio of senior leaders, Taylor Meek, Caroline Nowak, and Tori Rudnicki. All three have been a part of the program since they were freshmen and will be able to provide the rest of the team with the type of leadership needed to be successful.
Meek was third on the team last season in points scored with 34 from 19 goals and 15 assists. She played in all 16 games while starting 12. Nowak accumulated 16 points off 15 goals and one assist last year, and Rudnicki netted one goal as well. Tufts looks to be in good shape on the offensive end heading into the season. Aside from the seniors, their other two top point-scorers from 2017 will be returning as well.
As a freshman last year, Emily Games led the team with 49 goals and 15 assists for 64 points. She tied the program record for goals in a game when she scored eight in an 18-11 win over Williams last April. The third-team All-American's 74 shots on goal led the team and her 77.9 shot on goal percentage was a top mark as well.
Dakota Adamec was second on the team with 41 points as she scored 35 goals and assisted on six others as a sophomore. Her 14 free-position goals led the team. Adamec also led the squad with her 49 draw controls and she scooped up 15 groundballs and caused 12 turnovers. In the opening game of the season last year, she scored five goals in a 12-5 win over MIT.
On the defensive side, while the Jumbos will be losing two of their starters from last year, junior Hedy Veith will be back. She started all 16 games for Tufts in 2017 as she picked up 21 groundballs and led the team with 17 caused turnovers.
"Our defensive core has played a lot of minutes together and knows each other's instincts well," Shute said. "Our offense is focused on building off of the individual strengths of the group to create great team offensive flow."
The entire roster includes returning seniors Meek, Nowak, and Rudnicki, juniors Adamec, Veith, Maria Dattolo, Audrey Evers, Cecily Freliech, Courtney Grygiel, Maddy Schwartz, Annie Sullivan, Megan Toner, and Gabby Vinci, and sophomores Games, Lily Baldwin, Margaret Chase, Erin Jacob, Kelly Melin, Maddie Norman, Johanna O'Neil, and Ellie Wong. The eight-person freshmen class is made up of Kelsey Detels, Lindsay Erickson, Kristen Grazewski, Beth Krikorian, Catherine Lawliss, Kate Majoy, Emma Tomlinson, and Claire Wright.
"This team is exciting to coach, there is a phenomenal energy about them," Shute said. "They are working very hard and they really care about one another. There is a great sense of team within this group, playing for each other and giving everything they have for the person to the left and right of them."
The New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) is loaded with talent in women's lacrosse, placing six of its 11 teams in the top 25. Tufts comes into the season ranked 19th, and joining them in the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association poll are Trinity (3), Middlebury (4), Hamilton (13), Wesleyan (20), and Bowdoin (23). Trinity, Middlebury, Hamilton, and Wesleyan all qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season with Trinity making the final four and Middlebury advancing to the Elite Eight. The Jumbos will be looking to return to the national tournament for the first time since 2015 when they made it to the Sweet Sixteen.
"I have a great sense of belief in all 29 women on our team," Shute said. "The junior and senior classes have worked hard for their time as upperclassmen and I am confident that are ready to lead this 2018 group."
Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern