MEDFORD – The No. 5 Tufts University women's lacrosse team is set to take on No. 7 Wesleyan University in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Semifinals on Saturday afternoon at Middlebury College starting at 3 pm.
The Jumbos are the number two overall seed in the NESCAC Tournament and Wesleyan is the number three seed. Middlebury is the number one overall seed and will host Amherst, who is the number four seed, at 12 pm. The winners will play in the NESCAC Championship Game on Sunday at 1 pm.
Tufts got revenge on Trinity by defeating them 12-5 in the Quarterfinals last Saturday. Trinity had eliminated Tufts from NESCAC's in each of the past two seasons. The Jumbos reached the semifinals for the fourth time in program history. Tufts has never played in the NESCAC Championship Game and will be looking to do so by defeating Wesleyan. The Jumbos are 16-4 against the Cardinals dating back to 2000.
Head coach Courtney Shute's Jumbos finished the regular-season with a 14-1 record and were 9-1 in NESCAC action, which is their best regular-season finish since 2009 when they were 13-1 overall. The 14 regular-season wins were the most in program history. The Jumbos posted an impressive 7-0 record on Bello Field and defeated six nationally-ranked teams during their schedule. With the Quarterfinal victory over Trinity, Tufts improved to 15-1 overall and 8-0 in home games.
The Jumbos have 10 seniors leading them into the heart of the post-season. Tufts' offense has been explosive all season long and leads the NESCAC with 16.19 goals per game. Tufts averages 33.75 shots per game and has five players with 23 or more goals. Junior Emily Games has team-highs in goals with 44 and points with 58. Games also led the NESCAC with 20 free-position goals, including a game-winning free-position goal against Bowdoin on April 24. The Jumbos have also received a huge lift from first-year Colette Smith who has 37 goals and 13 assists. Senior Dakota Adamec, the 2018 NESCAC Player of the Year, has netted 40 goals and leads the team with 64 shots on net. Senior Annie Sullivan and sophomore Catherine Lawliss have each scored 23 goals. Senior Courtney Grygiel has dished out a team-high 15 assists and chipped in 15 goals.
Defensively, the Jumbos rank third in the NESCAC allowing 8.02 goals per game. Tufts' defense is led by senior Hedy Veith, who has caused a team-leading 17 turnovers and scooped up 29 ground balls. Tufts has only allowed an average of 23.1 shots per game. The Jumbos have been efficient in the clear attempts this season as they have converted 87.5 percent. Tufts ranks third in the NESCAC as they have won 227 draw controls with junior Maddie Norman taking a team-leading 51.
The Jumbos have had solid play in goal all year long with senior Audrey Evers and first-year Molly Laliberty, who have two of the top four save percentages in NESCAC. Evers has a perfect 10-0 record and has stopped 52 percent of the shots she has faced. She has 91 saves and a goals against average (GAA) of 8.65. Laliberty leads the conference with a 55.8 save percentage and has a 7.00 GAA. She has posted a 5-1 record in the net and has recorded 53 saves. In each of the of the past five games, Evers has played the first half and Laliberty has entered in the second half.
Wesleyan has a 14-2 overall record and has won their past five games. The Cardinals have posted eight victories over ranked opponents on the season. Wesleyan recorded the first NESCAC Tournament win in program history in 10 appearances on Saturday when they defeated Colby 14-12 in the Quarterfinals.
The Cardinals' offense is led by junior Abby Manning, who is tied for the NESCAC lead in goals with 55 on the season. Manning is also effective on draw controls as she has won a team-high 65. Senior Abigail Horst has also netted over 40 goals (42) and has won 61 draw controls. Sophomore Sydney Prokupek is third in the NESCAC with 23 assists and has also scored 18 goals.
Wesleyan's defense ranks second in the NESCAC as they only allow 7.68 goals per game. Seniors Caroline Sgaglione and Breanna Cavanaugh lead the defense as they have combined to cause 56 turnovers. Welseyan's defense only allows 20.5 shots per game, and junior goalie Allegra Grant has posted a 7.64 GAA. Grant has recorded 109 saves and has logged the most minutes in goal among all NESCAC goalies.
Tufts won 17-10 in the regular-season match-up against Wesleyan on April 6 at Bello Field. The Cardinals had a 7-5 lead at the half, but the Jumbo offense took over in the second half as they outscored the Wesleyan 12-3. Adamec matched a career-high with eight goals. Games and Sullivan also each recorded hat tricks for the Jumbos. Manning led the Cardinal offense with four goals in the contest. Laliberty had eight saves and earned the win for Tufts.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello