No. 1 Tufts took a while to join its would-be challengers in competition, with the Jumbos not playing their first game until March 12, but the reigning national champions have been making up for lost time lately. Over the past five days, the Jumbos have played three games, twice making narrow escapes with their undefeated record intact.
Of course, a close game is to be expected in a meeting between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, and that’s exactly what the Jumbos got when they faced No. 2 Stevenson last Wednesday in a neutral-site game at Towson University. Playing in front of some 500 fans who braved Wednesday night rain, the Jumbos and Mustangs went back and forth for 60 minutes, with both teams holding the lead. In the end, though, Tufts managed to hold off a fourth-quarter charge from Stevenson, escaping from Towson with a 14-13 win behind four goals from Sean Kirwan, and hat tricks from D.J. Hessler, Kevin McCormick, and Matt Witko, the last of whom scored the eventual game-winning goal with 4:32 remaining.
The real difference maker, however, was junior goalkeeper Steve Foglietta, who made 24 saves in the victory, including nine on high-powered Stevenson attackman Jimmy Dailey.
From there, the Jumbos returned to NESCAC play with a 12-6 road victory against Williams. The Jumbos busted the game open with six unanswered goals after the Ephs jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
Kirwan scored both of his goals during that stretch.
Leading 6-2 at halftime, the Jumbos cruised to victory, with Hessler and Ryan Molloy each scoring a pair of goals during a 5-1 fourth quarter, and Foglietta making eight of his 17 saves in the second half.
The surprise of Tufts’ three-game run came on Monday night, when the Jumbos returned home to face a Western New England team that received votes in the most recent USILA Division III Poll.
Tufts built a five-goal halftime lead, with McCormick scoring a hat trick and Hessler scoring a pair in the first 30 minutes. In the third quarter, however, the Golden Bears outscored the defending champs 6-1, chasing Foglietta from the net mere hours after he’d been named NESCAC Co-Player of the Week. Backup Patton Watkins didn’t fare much better, stopping two of the five shots he faced, but the Jumbos offense led the way through a back-and-forth battle in the fourth quarter, and Tufts escaped with its undefeated record intact after a 14-13 victory.
The Jumbos will look to settle down as they continue their homestand with a pair of conference games. Tufts hosts Wesleyan on Saturday, then will welcome Bates to Bello Field on Tuesday evening.
Need to Know
• There is a new No. 1 team in the USILA Division II Poll. Limestone continued its high scoring ways last week, blasting St. Andrews Presbyterian in a 27-7 rout that saw the Saints score 13 unanswered goals after the Knights scored the opening tally. From there, the Saints headed south, beating Saint Leo 21-5 on Saturday in St. Leo, Fla. Reigning Conference Carolinas Player of the Week Riley Loewen racked up 17 points in the two games, scoring four goals and handing out five assists against St. Andrews before scoring six goals and assisting on two more against Saint Leo. With a 9-0 record, the Saints were able to take advantage of a loss by C.W. Post, which fell in overtime, 8-7, to Dowling at Golden Lion Field in Brookhaven.
• It’s been six years since Johns Hopkins defeated Virginia, but the Blue Jays upset the then-No. 2 Cavaliers on Saturday to win the Doyle Smith Cup. It’s the first time since the trophy was introduced as the prize for the winner of each season’s meeting between Hopkins and UVa that the Blue Jays brought home the trophy. Hopkins scored four goals in the first quarter while holding the Cavaliers scoreless, and took an 8-3 lead early in the third quarter before Virginia scored six of the next seven goals to send the game to the fourth quarter tied at nine. Virginia held leads of 10-9 and 11-10 in the final 10 minutes, but freshman Rob Guida scored to tie the game with 4:49 remaining, and senior Chris Boland scored with 99 seconds left to give the Blue Jays the victory. The victory moved Hopkins up from No. 11 to No. 5 in this week’s USILA poll, while Virginia fell to No. 6.
• With Stevenson falling from the ranks of the undefeated, Salisbury is now the No. 2 team in the USILA Division III Poll. The Sea Gulls ran their record to 9-0 on Saturday with an 18-2 victory against Mary Washington in a Capital Athletic Conference game. After scoring five goals in Salisbury’s mid-week victory against Roanoke, junior attackman Matt Cannone scored three more goals and dished out two assists, earning CAC Player of the Week honors and moving within nine goals of the Salisbury program record of 130.
• North Carolina picked up a pair of weekly honors in the ACC, as freshman attackman Nicky Galasso and sophomore goalkeeper Steven Rastivo were named the conference’s offensive and defensive players of the week, respectively. Galasso scored four goals and handed out eight assists in the team’s nationally-televised victories against Dartmouth and Maryland, while Restivo made 25 saves on 38 shots in his first two collegiate starts.
• Mercyhurst junior attackman Kyle Kallay was named ECC Player of the Week for the second week in a row. Kallay, a native of Orangeville, Ontario, scored four goals in an 11-4 victory against Lake Erie, then scored six goals (including the game-winner) in a 10-9 victory against Seton Hill.
• St. Lawrence sophomore goalkeeper Jeff Goeke and Skidmore midfielder Ryan Paradis shared Defensive Player of the Week honors in the Liberty League. Gieke made 17 saves in an 8-4 victory against Colby, then made 18 saves in a 9-4 loss to Nazareth, while Paradis went 24 for 36 on faceoffs and picked up 15 ground balls as the Thoroughbreds defeated Williams and Kings Point.