Mass. College Hoops: Bentley, Tufts, WPI Remain Perfect, Saturday Roundup

By Matt Noonan

Saturday’s basketball slate was filled with some interesting outcomes. Here are a few headlines and notes from the day, which I have provided below:

* Start the countdown for Amherst-Tufts women’s basketball. Both teams concluded their first weekend of NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) hoops without a loss. Although, I should also note that the Jumbos are a perfect 13-0, and off to their best start in program history.

* WPI’s men’s basketball earned their 13th win of the season, as they walloped Babson College, 71-38. Watertown’s Marco Coppola led all scorers with 18 points, while Russell Braithwaite paced the Beavers with a team-high 16 points. The Engineers haven’t dropped a game since last February, which was when they lost to MIT during the final week of the regular season.

* Babson College and Smith College each earned their fifth NEWMAC (New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference) win this afternoon. The Beavers needed some quality defense to get past Springfield, while the Pride utilized an extra session to beat Wellesley.

* I was very impressed with Coast Guard’s Meghan Fornaro, who tallied 19 points in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, she didn’t play much in the second stanza against WPI, but despite being apart of her team’s sixth setback of the season, the Charlton native should be proud of her performance.

* Curry College’s men’s basketball team remains the only squad in the Commonwealth Coastal Conference with a perfect record against conference foes. This afternoon the Colonels earned their third win by defeating Salve Regina, 96-78. Sedale Jones powered Curry with a game-high 25 points, while Antonio Jones scored 18 off the bench.

* Bridgewater State’s women’s basketball team earned their third consecutive win, as well as their ninth of the season with a victory against Fitchburg State. Westfield State and Worcester State each earned their first MASCAC (Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference) win too.

* Westfield State’s men’s basketball team suffered their second straight loss, as Salem State defeated the Owls at home, 94-77. I wonder how head coach Rich Sutter feels about his team’s first conference defeat?

* Bentley University’s women’s basketball team improved to 7-0 in the Northeast-10 and 11-0 overall with a win against Saint Anselm. The Falcons netted 36 points in both halves and had four players finish with 10 points or more.

* Jamie Panton netted 17 points; Mary Louise Dixon recorded a game-high 14 rebounds, as Stonehill College earned its 10th win of the season against Merrimack College, 84-67.

* Northeastern University’s men’s basketball team evened its record at 7-7, as well as picked up its second CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) victory against UNC-Wilmington, 68-64.

* UMass earned its 10th win of the season, as the Minutemen defeated Eastern Michigan at the Mullins Center, 75-61. Chaz Williams paced UMass wit 14 points and nine rebounds.

Mass College Softball: Tufts Eliminated From College Softball World Series

By NoontimeSports.com 

Tufts University’s softball team concluded their season on Sunday against Linfield College, as the Wildcats defeated the Jumbos, 4-1.

The Wildcats clinched the victory with three solo home runs, and some solid pitching by sophomore Karina Paavola, who earned her 24th win on the bump. The Jumbos recorded their only run of the afternoon in the bottom of the seventh when freshman and pinch runner Bri Keenan crossed home plate with two outs. Tufts recorded seven hits in this particular contest, but struggled to drive in runs.

Tufts earned a spot in the College Softball World Series after winning their region on Sunday, May 13. They did manage to muster two wins in the Div. III tournament against Roanoke and Plattsburgh State.

For more on this particular contest — CLICK HERE.

Mass College Lax Recap: Tufts 9, Bowdoin College 8 (2OT)

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.”

Mass College Lax Recap: Tufts 15, Amherst 5

Sophomore Beau Wood's four goals helped Tufts defeat Amherst, 15-5! (Photo Credit: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan 

MEDFORD, MA – After an enormous non-conference victory earlier this week, Tufts University’s men’s lacrosse team continued their winning ways on Saturday by defeating Amherst College, 15-5.

Sophomore Beau Wood paced the Jumbos with four goals, while senior Kevin McCormick added two goals and two assists.

“We didn’t necessarily see this coming today [because] we have great respect for them, [Amherst] and their entire program, and we just put together a pretty complete effort today, and it went our way most of the days, so like I said, we didn’t really, really see this coming,” said Tufts University head coach Mike Daly.

Tufts (10-2) needed less than five minutes to earn the lead for good, as McCormick connected with senior Ben Saperstein, (one goal, one assist) during a ‘man up’ opportunity, which helped the Jumbos earn a 1-0 advantage.

The Jumbos increased their lead midway through the second when Wood, senior Geordie Schafer, sophomore Peter Bowers, (two goals, two assists), and freshman Cole Bailey each fired shots past the Lord Jeffs’ senior netminder Samuel Jakimo, (nine saves).

“We felt early on, we were getting shots, and we were generating what we want to generate, so we [made sure not to panic],” said Daly. “[We] just stayed with what we were doing [following the opening draw].”

Amherst (8-4) eventually netted their first goal late in the second frame when Cole Cherney whipped the ball past Tufts’ sophomore goaltender Patton Watkins, (14 saves).

The Lord Jeffs then attempted to double their goal total during the closing minutes, but missed opportunities forced them to enter halftime trailing the Jumbos, 5-1.

Entering the third quarter, Tufts exploded for seven unanswered goals, as Wood and freshman Chris Schoenhut each notched two strikes, while Bowers, McCormick and senior Sean Kirwan registered one tally.

“We just really built off what we did in the second quarter,” said McCormick. “It was really just moving the ball a lot, and just taking what the defense gave us. We always say, let the defense decides who scores and not try to force anything, so I think we did a great job of taking what they gave us, and just executing on all cylinders.”

“We were lucky to find [Beau and Kevin] when they were open, and they finished them and it’s a pretty simple game when it’s going your way,” added Daly. “It’s not rocket science.”

McCormick recorded his final goal early in the fourth, which padded the lead for the Jumbos before Amherst tallied an additional three strikes.

“We’ve been having some flashes of a performance like this and like I said, it just all came together today and we can enjoy it for about two seconds and then we’ve got to go to Bates on Tuesday and if you don’t show up with the schedule we play, [then] you’re going to be sorry at the end of the day,” said Daly. “We’ve got to keep the momentum, and the energy and emotion trending how we’ve had it.”

Tufts have now defeated Amherst eight consecutive times dating back to 2005.

“They’re just one of our NESCAC rivals, and there’s something about certain games like playing Amherst – it really gets us going, especially on Alumni Day,” said McCormick. “It wasn’t hard to get up for this game, [but] I guess we always do well against Amherst.”