Noonan: Reflecting On Tufts’ Championship Win & Mass. D3 Lax

The Tufts University men's lacrosse team captured its second NCAA crown on Sunday with a 12-9 win over Salisbury University. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

The Tufts University men’s lacrosse team captured its second NCAA crown on Sunday with a 12-9 win over Salisbury University. (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan for NoontimeSports.com)

By Matt Noonan 

Before the first game of the 2014 college lacrosse season had been recorded, I thought, ‘could a Massachusetts team reach the NCAA semifinals or finals in May?”

The answer: Yes.

Tufts University, one of the teams I was eying at the end of February and early March, captured its second NCAA Division III crown with a 12-9 victory over Salisbury University on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the Baltimore Ravens.

The Jumbos concluded the 2014 season as not only champions, but also record-holders in goals (423 goals, a new NCAA single-season record for all divisions) and assists (45 helpers in the postseason, a new NCAA record, too). They also finished with a program-best 21 victories and a 14-game winning streak.

Junior Cole Bailey, who registered a game-high six points on five helpers and one marker, was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player. Bailey was instrumental in helping the Jumbos rally from a 4-1 deficit in the second quarter to claim their second national crown in program history (Tufts defeated Salisbury for its first NCAA crown in 2010, but lost to the Sea Gulls a year later).

“I wouldn’t have that award without the guys who are playing with me,” Bailey told the media following the conclusion of Sunday’s championship. “They set me up for so many successful plays. It’s an honor to play with them, so that’s that.”

Bailey will return next year, but capping their four-year run with the Powder Blue and White were seniors Patton Watkins and Kane Delaney. Watkins, who is the unit’s goaltender, turned away 17 shots, including eight attempts in final stanza. Delaney recorded five ground balls.

“So honored to be a part of this. I couldn’t be happier right now,” Watkins told the media. “I don’t even know what to say. The emotions are just all over the place.

“It was so much fun.”

Tufts head coach Mike Daly, who guided the Jumbos to its fifth-straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) crown earlier this month with a 20-13 win over Amherst College, told the Boston Herald how proud he was of his seniors, as well as each member of the squad.

“I’m certainly proud of this team, all the guys, our senior class,” he said. “It’s an amazing achievement.”

The Jumbos are the only Massachusetts squad to capture the NCAA Division III crown since 1980, according to NCAA.com. Middlebury College – a school from Vermont and one of Tufts’ conference foes – has won a few titles, but hasn’t appeared in the championship since falling to the Sea Gulls in 2005.

While the win may or may not have set in for Daly and his players, this Jumbos squad will certainly be remembered for their high-powered offense, but also their passion for the game of lacrosse.

“The only thing that gets bigger in the second half is our smiles, and just go out there and show everyone how much fun we have playing this game, how much passion this team can play with, and just smile,” Daly said of his team’s halftime chat.

The passion was always on display. Whether they scored a goal or made a great stop on defense, the players exhibited their excitement both on and off the field.

Tufts will certainly be one of the team’s to keep an eye on next season, but so will Amherst, Endicott College, Springfield College and Western New England. And while we continue to eye these programs’ schedules and box scores, let’s also not forget about the remainder of the pack that continues to get stronger.

Becker College and Emmanuel College, two teams from the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) should certainly improve next season (The Hawks will be moving to the NECC next spring). The Saints defeated the Hawks in the conference championship, while the Hawks fell short to Salve Regina in the ECAC title match. Both teams are well coached and have players that are excited to build on this particular year.

Other teams to watch include Lasell College, Babson College, Clark University, MIT, Regis College and Wheaton College. All six teams ended their respective campaigns with different marks, but showed signs that they’re going to be a lot better in the future. Babson, Clark, MIT and Wheaton all hail from the NEWMAC, and should certainly provide challenges for the Pride, who has won 56 consecutive conference games.

Also, let’s not forget about Williams College, a squad that defeated the national champions on April 1, but fell to the Jumbos in the NESCAC semifinals. The Ephs rarely played in Williamstown due to construction on their new turf field, but exhibited resiliency in each game and practice.

All in all, it was certainly a fun and exciting season for the local Division III squads. Expect the excitement to continue next season and beyond, but for the time being, let’s also enjoy this particular win for Tufts, as well as Massachusetts.

QUICK NOTE: Quotes from Tufts’ players came from the athletic department’s release on Sunday. 

Mass. College Football: Harvard’s Medes Tabbed To CFPA Linebacker Award Watch List

By NoontimeSports.com 

Courtesy of the Harvard Athletics Communication office, here’s today’s release about linebacker Eric Medes, who has been named to the College Football Performance Awards (CPFA) Football Championship Subdivision Linebacker Award Watch List: 

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Rising junior linebacker Eric Medes of the Harvard football team has been named to the College Football Performance Awards (CPFA) Football Championship Subdivision Linebacker Award Watch List.

Medes, who is among 38 linebackers in the FCS vying for this award, led Harvard with 72 tackles last season, helping the Crimson go 9-1 and win a share of the Ivy League title.

“Congratulations to Eric Medes on earning a spot on this year’s watch list,” said CFPA Executive Director Brad Smith. “After leading Harvard in total tackles last season, Medes will likely play an important defensive role for Harvard in 2014.”

A native of Mt. Laurel, N.J., Medes made two fumble recoveries, had 2.5 tackles for a loss and added an interception and a forced fumble last fall. Medes returned one of his fumble recoveries for a touchdown in the win over Holy Cross Oct. 5.

Three Harvard players have earned CFPA honors. Last season, Zach Hodges shared the CFPA Defensive End Award. Hodges followed fellow CFPA winners Colton Chapple ’13 in 2012 and 2011 recipient Kyle Juszczyk ’13.

The full list of 2014 CFPA winners will be announced January 14, 2015.

Mass. College Lax: NEILA Announces 2014 East-West Senior All-Star Game

By NoontimeSports.com 

The New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) released the rosters for the annual East-West Senior All-Star Game, which will be held next Friday, May 30 at Springfield College. The game is scheduled to commence at 5 p.m. with a 6:45 p.m. barbecue to follow for the players and their families.

Below is the rosters for both teams, which features numerous seniors from numerous Massachusetts squads:

East

 

West

Mass. College Lax: Amherst Looks To Capture First Crown Since 2003

By Matt Noonan 

Amherst College’s women’s lacrosse team will look to capture its first national title this weekend since defeating NESCAC foe Middlebury, 11-9, in 2003 at St. John Fisher.

In order for the Jeffs to reach the championship on Sunday, they’ll have to defeat Salisbury, who captured their second Division III crown last season with a 12-5 win over Trinity (Conn.).

Tomorrow’s semifinal matchup, which will take place in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, will be the fourth meeting between the Jeffs and Sea Gulls, according to the Salisbury website/game preview. Their last meeting occurred in 2007 with Salisbury claiming an 11-4 win.

“Postseason – it’s about execution (and) it’s about decreasing your unforced errors and it’s about just playing smart,” Amherst head coach Chris Paradis said in an interview following the Jeffs’ 8-5 win over TCNJ last weekend. “I think we’re doing that.

“We’ve been talking about (how) every game is going to get more challenging from here on in, so you’ve got to increase your ability to read a situation and make sure you’re making the right decision before you have the ball leave your stick.”

The Jeffs, who commenced their current campaign winning 14 straight contests, have won 19 games this season, a program-record (their most wins in program history was 18, which was set by the national championship unit from 2003). Amherst punched its ticket to the NCAA Division III semifinals by defeating TCNJ in the quarterfinals, York in third round and Bridgewater State in the second round. The Jeffs earned a first-round bye, as well as an automatic bid to the playoffs.

According to the weekend preview, which can be accessed on the team’s athletic page, Amherst has participated in the NCAA Tournament 11 times, including this season. They’re 22-9 in postseason play and making their first trip to the semifinal round since 2004.

Rachel Passarelli leads the Purple and White in points (52) on 41 goals and 11 assists, while Krista Zsitvay, who’s registered 51 points in 20 contests, ranks first in goals (43). Against TCNJ, Zsitvay led all scorers with four markers. She recorded three points against York and Bridgewater State, netting two tallies and assisting on one strike in both contests.

Amherst has outscored their opponents this postseason, 40-12, and averaging 13 goals per game. They’ve also outshot their foes, 71-39. Goaltender Christy Forrest has turned away 20 shots, including 11 against York.

Excluding their point leaders, the Jeffs will lean on their senior class this weekend, according to Paradis, who commended each player for their effort this season, both on and off the field.

“I think they’ve set the tone all year,” said Paradis. “They’ve held each other accountable, they’ve set the bar high in terms of their leadership of vocally and how they carry themselves, and they’ve just all been just phenomenal – phenomenal leaders just right down the line, all five of them.”

The Amherst senior class is made up of Zsitvay, Alex Philie, Annelies O’Dea, Caroline Holliday and Elizabeth Ludlow.

Salisbury, which is ranked second in the nation, is making its seventh appearance in the semifinals in the last eight seasons. They’ve won championships in 2010 and 2013, but came up short in 2012 against the Bantams. The Sea Gulls concluded their regular season slate undefeated for the 12th consecutive year, and earned postseason wins against Farmingdale State, Augustana (Ill.) and Franklin & Marshall.

The winner advances to Sunday’s championship against SUNY Cortland or Trinity at 2:30 p.m. The Bantams and Red Dragons will meet in the first semifinal contest, which is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“I think all along this season we knew we had something special,” said Paradis. “We knew it was within our grasp (of reaching the semifinals). The challenge was to stay focused; one game at a time and this team has managed to do that. They’ve played with a lot of heart and a lot of determination.

“It’s a dream, but at the same time I think we knew it was also definitely that was something realistic for us.”

Quick Note: Quotes for this post were courtesy of the Amherst College Athletic Department’s YouTube Channel (AmherstSports). The video was ‘Amherst vs. TCNJ.’

Mass. College Lax: NCAA Championship Weekend Schedule

By NoontimeSports.com 

The final weekend of the college lacrosse season is upon us.

Two local squads – Amherst College (women’s lacrosse) and Tufts University (men’s lacrosse) – along with a handful of Division I, II and III teams will be competing for national championships over the next few days. Below this weekend’s schedule, which does include non-Massachusetts teams, too.

Men’s Division I Schedule (Games on ESPN2, both Saturday & Monday):

* Denver vs. Duke, 1 p.m. (Semifinal) Saturday, May 24

* Maryland vs. Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m. (Semifinal) Saturday, May 24

* Denver/Duke vs. Maryland/Notre Dame, 1 p.m. (Championship), Monday, May 26

Men’s Division II Schedule (Watch on NCAA.com):

* LIU Post vs. Limestome, 4 p.m. (Championship) Sunday, May 25  

Men’s Division III Schedule (Watch on NCAA.com):

* Tufts vs. Salisbury, 1 p.m. (Championship) Sunday, May 25

Women’s Division I Schedule (Watch on ESPN3 & ESPNU):

* Virginia vs. Syracuse, 5 p.m. (Semifinal) Friday, May 23

* Northwestern vs. Maryland, 7:30 p.m. (Semifinal) Friday, May 23

* Virginia/Syracuse vs. Northwestern/Maryland, 8:30 p.m. (Championship) Sunday, May 25  (Game will be on ESPNU)

Women’s Division III Schedule:

* Trinity (Conn.) vs. SUNY Cortland, 1 p.m. (Semifinal) Saturday, May 24

* Amherst vs. Salisbury, 4 p.m. (Semifinal) Saturday, May 24

* Trinity/SUNY Cortland vs. Amherst/Salisbury, 2:30 p.m. (Championship) Sunday, May 25

Quick Note: The Division II Women’s Lacrosse Championship was decided last weekend as Adelpi capped a perfect season by defeating Lock Haven, 7-5. Adelphi concluded the regular season 21-0.