MEDFORD – One of seven New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) teams ranked among the top 20 in this week's Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) poll, an experienced Tufts squad will look to challenge for a conference title as well as make some noise nationally with the 2019 season drawing to a start.
|Senior Annie Sullivan is one of three All-Americans returning to the Jumbo line-up this spring.|
Head coach Courtney Shute's team finished 8-2 in NESCAC last season for third place, the Jumbos' best showing in the conference since 2009. The program also earned its fourth NCAA berth and the first since 2015, which included a 17-8 win over FDU-Florham in the opening round. The Jumbos' 13-5 record represented the most wins for the program since 2009.
With the loss of only one senior who played regularly last spring, the Jumbos appear poised to continue moving upward in the competitive NESCAC in Coach Shute's sixth season.
"We have great depth this year and we look forward to really using our athleticism and speed," Coach Shute said. "Our senior class is one of our greatest strengths. The power of the group has been an inspiration for the team the whole year, and is something that our underclassmen certainly look to."
Returning NESCAC Player of the Year Dakota Adamec is back for her senior season, as are All-NESCAC midfielder Annie Sullivan and defender Hedy Veith. All three were 2018 IWLCA All-Americans as well. The Jumbos have 10 seniors overall to provide experience and leadership to the team.
Adamec piled up 51 goals and 16 assists for 67 points in 18 games last season, an average of 3.72 points per game. She was even more productive in 10 conference games with 42 points (34 goals). Also among the best on draw controls in NESCSAC, she grabbed 52 last spring.
Tufts' attack also returns junior Emily Games, who has compiled 86 goals and 122 points in her two seasons. Sophomore Catherine Lawliss was one of the top offensive freshmen in the league last year with 31 goals and 18 assists. Look for Courtney Grygiel, Gabby Vinci and Maria Dattolo to step into more productive roles during their senior seasons. The Jumbos' 14.5 goals per game last season led NESCAC and they look to at least keep pace with that number again this year.
Sullivan was a do-it-all middie for the Jumbos last spring, finishing the season ranked in the top 30 in the league in points (34-5-39) and draw controls (38). She often marked up on one of the opposing team's top attacking threats and also helped kick-start the team's fast-break opportunities.
The Jumbos are deep at midfield, including some younger middies who have excellent endurance and pace of play. Juniors Margaret Chase and Maddie Norman are all returning starters. Senior Cecily Freliech and junior Megan Toner are also experienced contributors. Norman tied for the team lead in caused turnovers (21) and was second in both draw controls (59) and groundballs (25) while adding 14 goals. Sophomore Kirsten Grazewski was a steady contributor off the bench (13 points).
Veith is a team and defensive leader who most often marks up on the opponent's top attacking threat, while also standing out with her help defense. Veith and the Jumbo D often held opponents to 90-second stands last spring and were a cohesive unit which has an added year of experience to work with this spring.
Tufts was in the middle of the pack with a 9.06 goals against average last year. A veteran defense will look to lower that mark in 2019. Senior goalkeeper Audrey Evers has started all 50 of her career games as a Jumbo. Senior Maddy Schwartz (22 GBs in '18) and junior Lily Baldwin (13 CTs) are both experienced veterans. Baldwin is also a draw controls ace, with her 71 last season leading the team and placing fourth in NESCAC. Junior Johanna O'Neil had a pair of three CT games last season and could continue to emerge.
Sophomores Claire Wright (six goals last year) and Kate Majoy on offense, and Lindsay Erickson and Emma Tomlinson defensively will look to make their marks. Coach Shute and her staff have added a freshman class of eight players from which some key contributions are likely.
The Jumbos open the year at #11 in the IWLCA poll. They will face #2 Middlebury, #6 Amherst, #9 Trinity, #12 Wesleyan, #13 Bowdoin and #19 Colby during their conference schedule. Their non-league slate features a game at #3 TCNJ.
"Our goal each day is to stay in the moment and have the sum of those days and moments add up to as long a lacrosse season as possible," Coach Shute said. "Right now we are focused on meshing on both sides of the ball and feeding our legs through the midfield. We have a great mix of veteran upperclassmen and talented underclassmen, all of whom are pushing to help make us a little better each day."