MEDFORD – Junior Emily Games netted five goals and dished out two assists to guide the Tufts University women's lacrosse team to a 17-13 victory over The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) on Saturday afternoon at Bello Field in an NCAA Tournament "Sweet 16" match. Tufts will now face York (Pa.) in the NCAA Tournament "Elite Eight" on Bello Field Sunday at 4pm. Both Tufts and York will be seeking their first "Final Four" appearance in their program's histories.
With the victory, Tufts improves to 18-2 overall and recorded their sixth NCAA Tournament win in program history. Following the setback, TCNJ ends their season with a 14-6 record and concludes a year in which they qualified for the NCAA's for the 34th time. The Jumbos won both games the teams played this season including 8-7 on March 20.
TCNJ senior Kathleen Jaeger got the scoring going early in the game with a goal off a free-position attempt to give the Lions an early lead. Games responded less than a minute later with a free-position goal of her own to even the score. Jaeger then found the Lions' season-leading goal scorer, junior Alex Fitzpatrick, who put the ball in the back of the net to give TCNJ a 2-1 lead. Jumbo first-year Colette Smith went on to create a great chance on goal after the Fitzpatrick score, but was denied by TCNJ senior goalie Miranda Chrone. In what continued to be a fast-paced game, Tufts senior Cecily Freliech tallied in a man-up situation to tie the game at 2-2 with 24:47 left in the first half.
Games, the Jumbos' season-leading point scorer, would then score the contest's next two goals off free-position shots to give Tufts a two-goal advantage (4-2). Fitzpatrick and graduate student Erin Harvey responded for the Lions with a goal apiece within a two-minute span to tie the game back up (4-4). Smith then went on to score the next two goals of the game as both teams continued to make mini-runs on one another. The first Smith goal came off a nice pass from Games and the second goal gave the Jumbos a 6-4 edge. New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Year Dakota Adamec then extended the Jumbos' run to three goals with a shot that beat Chrone.
Tufts senior goalie Audrey Evers and Chrone each made key saves following the Adamec goal to keep the score at 7-4. TCNJ junior Olivia Cleale ended the Jumbos' run with a goal to cut the deficit to two (7-5). After a converted clear, Tufts senior Annie Sullivan found a cutting junior Maddie Norman, who finished the nice pass by rifling the ball into the back of the cage to push the Jumbo lead back to three goals. During a Jumbos' man-up opportunity they earned after the Norman goal, Fitzpatrick scored a man-down goal off a pass from Jaeger and Tufts responded with a connection from Games to Sullivan for a 9-6 Tufts advantage. Sophomore Kirsten Grazewski found fellow sophomore Catherine Lawliss, who scored to push the Tufts lead to four goals. Freliech and Smith closed the half with a goal apiece as the Jumbos took a 12-6 lead into halftime. Tufts held TCNJ scoreless over the final 10:28 of the first half and allowed no shots on goal during that stretch.
Games opened the second half with another free-position goal giving the hosts a 13-6 lead less than a minute into the second half. The Jumbos' offense continued to attack the net, but Games and senior Gabby Vinci had shots denied by Chrone to keep Tufts from extending the lead. Cleale rewarded her goaltender with a pair of goals within a minute of each other to cut the deficit to five goals (13-8). Lawliss responded with a goal off a nice left-handed pass from Smith. Jaeger then scored the contest's next two goals, the first after attacking the net and the second on a free-position shot to get the Lions within four goals (14-10).
The Lions' defense continued to slow down the Jumbos and extended their run to three unanswered goals off a man-up goal from junior Kasey Donoghue that them as close as three goals from the lead at 14-11. Grazewski broke through the Lions' defense and earned a free-position attempt with 11:25 remaining. The sophomore was able to beat Chrone to push the lead back up to four goals. Cleale then found Donoghue, who netted a goal to again get the Lions within three goals of the Jumbos (15-12). Games scored her fifth free-position goal of the game with 7:06 remaining to increase the lead to 16-12. Lawliss and Norman had great chances to push the lead to five, but again Chrone made a pair of saves. Cleale and Delaney traded goals in the final four minutes of the game and the Jumbos went on to win 17-13.
Games rifled off a game-high 10 shots on goal to lead Tufts. Smith netted a hat trick and dished out an assist. Grazewski tallied three points with a goal and a pair of assists. Freliech and Lawliss each contributed two goals respectively. Sullivan, Delaney, Norman, and Adamec each scored a goal for the Jumbos as well. Junior Lily Baldwin won a team-high five draw controls. Senior Hedy Veith led the defense with two caused turnovers and two ground balls.
Cleale led the Lions' balanced offense with four goals and two assists. Jaeger netted three goals and dished out a pair of helpers. Fitzpatrick also recorded a hat trick. Donoghue scored two goals and Harvey had the other TCNJ goal. Lion senior defender Abby Flager won five draw controls and caused two turnovers. Chrone recorded 13 saves.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello