Tufts outlasts Bowdoin to win NESCAC
Wood tallies game-winner in 2OT to propel Jumbos to victory
MEDFORD, Mass. -- Beau Wood took a feed from Geordie Schafer and rifled home the game-winning goal at 1:50 of the second overtime as fifth-ranked Tufts won its third consecutive NESCAC title 9-8 against Bowdoin on Sunday at Bello Field.
In an outstanding game, Bowdoin scored twice in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the score at 8-8. Wood's goal gave Tufts (16-2) its second consecutive overtime victory in the conference finals, including last year's 13-12 win against Middlebury. The Jumbos earn NESCAC's automatic berth into the NCAA tournament, marking their fourth NCAA appearance in a row.
Sean Kirwan led Tufts on Sunday with four goals.The Jumbos have now won 11 in a row overall and 32 consecutive at Bello Field.
The No. 12 Polar Bears (13-5), who were playing in their third conference final, were led by three goals from Keegan Mehlhorn. Bowdoin has a good shot at earning an at-large berth into the NCAA tournament.
Tufts' Kirwan and Bowdoin's Mehlhorn both scored twice in the first period, which ended in a 3-3 tie. The Jumbos led 2-0, Bowdoin tallied three consecutive goals before Tufts tied it.
Polar Bear sophomore Franklin Reis scored the lone goal of the second quarter and Bowdoin went into halftime with a 4-3 lead. Chris Williamson had eight saves at the break for the visitors.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Jumbo freshman Cole Bailey scored a goal and assisted one as the hosts took a 5-4 lead. However, Bowdoin senior Chris Anderson netted back-to-back goals 43 seconds apart to push the Polar Bears back in front 6-5 with 7:58 remaining in the third.
The Jumbos finished the quarter with a 3-0 run over the final seven minutes, including two goals by Kirwan and two assists by Wood. They led 8-6 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Polar Bears would out-shoot Tufts 13-7 in the fourth, but the Jumbo defense was able to hold them off until Mehlhorn scored at 3:11 to make it 8-7. Tufts won the face-off, but Bowdoin's Greg Pierce caused a turnover which led to Will Wise's goal with 1:19 remaining to tie it 8-8. Polar Bear senior Brendan Hughes won the ensuing face-off, but two Bowdoin shots missed wide.
Jumbo senior Nick Rhoads won the face-off clean to open overtime. The Jumbos took two shots and Bowdoin had one, but none were on net and the game went to a second OT.
Bowdoin won the second-overtime face-off on a groundball by Lawton Salley. However, after a time-out, the Polar Bears turned the ball over. A Kirwan shot was saved by Williamson, but Bowdoin stepped out of bounds during the clear attempt under heavy Tufts pressure. Soon, Wood was unleashing the shot to win it for the Jumbos.
Wood and Bailey both finished with a goal and two assists for Tufts. Matt Callahan caused two turnovers and picked up four groundballs. Dan Alles also had four groundballs. Rhoads won 13 of 22 face-offs, and Patton Watkins finished with seven saves (five in the second half).
Reis added an assist to finish with three points for Bowdon. Matthew Egan led the Polar Bears with a game-high five groundballs. Williamson totaled 13 saves.
The stats reflected the tightly contested game, as Tufts held a 39-36 advantage in shots, but Bowdoin led 32-29 on groundballs. The Jumbos capitalized on two of four man-up situations while holding Bowdoin to 0 for 6. The Polar Bears turned the ball over 23 times to 17 for the Jumbos.