By Matt Noonan
MEDFORD, MA – Tufts University sophomore Beau Wood knew that once the second-overtime in Sunday’s NESCAC championship commenced, the Jumbos needed to score.
“They got the ball first [in the] second overtime, [but] we have all [the] faith in our defense, we knew they were going to make a stop, and knew that we had to just end it, so we got it,” said Wood. “Obviously in that two slide area, and finally got one to fall, that’s about it.”
Wood collected a pass from senior teammate Geordie Schafer on the left side of the Bowdoin zone, and rocketed a shot past the Polar Bears senior netminder Christopher Williamson, (13 saves) for the clincher at 1:50, which propelled the Jumbos to a 9-8 victory at Bello Field.
“Getting one for the seniors this year, especially – it’s just terrific, great feeling,” Wood said of his team’s third consecutive conference crown.
“It’s so simple. We’re a second a way, a goal away from being a donkey, and we don’t want to take that one for granted [because] we have a ton of respect for Bowdoin, and they gave us 60 minutes and then some and [I’m] just happy to be out on top,” said Tufts University head coach Mike Daly.
Tufts began the game with two back-to-back strikes from senior co-captains Kevin McCormack and Sean Kirwan, (four goals) before Bowdoin rallied to tie the game with two unassisted tallies by senior Keegan Mehlorn, (three goals) and sophomore Franklin Reis, (two goals, one assist).
Mehlorn provided Bowdoin with their first lead of the contest two minutes after the Polar Bears evened the score, but Tufts answered when Kirwan crashed the net for his second strike at 2:58 in the opening quarter.
Bowdoin retained the lead halfway through the second frame with a tally by Reis, which gave the Polar Bears a 4-3 advantage at the break.
Entering the second half, both squads swapped leads until Kirwan sparked a three-goal rally halfway through the third frame, which provided Tufts with a two-goal advantage that was erased late in the fourth quarter by Melhorn and sophomore Will Wise.
“They did a terrific job getting it around, and getting really good lucks,” Wood said of Bowdoin’s fourth quarter rally. “Definitely credit to them, and their defense did a good job making us settle four outside shots and their goalie made a lot of saves.”
Wise, who tied the game at 8, capitalized on a forced turnover by senior Greg Pierce to force two additional sessions after he sent the ball past sophomore goaltender Patton Watkins, (sevens saves) at 1:19.
“We knew they were going to make adjustments, we knew they were [going] to be there and make plays, and thankfully we made one more play than them [on Sunday],” said Daly.
Tufts recorded two shots in the first overtime, while Bowdoin mustered one, but the Jumbos eventually found the back of Williamson’s cage after a Polar Bears turnover and out of bounds clear in the sixth frame, which set up the game-winner by Wood.
“Honestly that goal was exactly everything we’re looking for,” said Daly. “We dodged in the middle, and then they slid to us and we made a good decision to get it to Beau and Beau was the open man and he hit his shot and we expect that of all six offensive players out there, so Beau’s had a tremendous year and he works his rear end off.”