No. 8 Tufts clinches top spot in NESCAC with victory against Wesleyan (Conn.)
MEDFORD, Mass. -- For the fourth time since the tournament started in 2001, Tufts University will be the top seed in the NESCAC Championship following a 17-11 victory against Wesleyan on Saturday.
The No. 8 Jumbos and the Cardinals both entered the game with 7-1 records tied atop the NESCAC standings. Cole Bailey and John Uppgren each tallied three goals and two assists as Tufts took the battle for first.
Now 12-2 overall and 8-1 in NESCAC, the Jumbos were previously the conference's top seed in 2012, 2011 and 2007.
Wesleyan, led by three goals and an assist from Mike Giambanco, dropped to 10-4 and 7-2 in the league. They will take the second seed in the conference draw.
Tufts never trailed in the game, but wasn't able to comfortable pull away until the fourth quarter. Goalie Patton Watkins matched his season-high with 17 saves, including 12 in the second half. Current NESCAC Player of the Week Conor Helfrich continued his dominance on face-offs with a 20 for 30 showing today.
The teams traded the first four goals before Peter Gill and Chris Schoenhut scored the last two of the first quarter putting Tufts up 4-2. The teams would continue in a back-and-forth nature halfway into the second period. The Jumbos had a 6-3 advantage on AJ Enchill's laser into the top left corner, but Wesleyan scored the next two including Matt Prezioso's tally at 7:40 of the second cutting the margin to 6-5.
This is where Tufts opened up some room. Schoenhut scored twice and assisted another goal as the Jumbos finished the half on a four-goal run to lead 10-5 at intermission. Lyle Mitchell scored the first goal of the second half for Wesleyan, but Bailey and Peter Bowers answered for Tufts making it 12-6.
Wesleyan would twice more pull within four in the third, 12-8 on Giambanco's goal at 7:49 and 13-9 with Aidan Daniell's score at 2:45. However, Uppgren scored twice and assisted the other as the Jumbos netted the first three goals of the fourth quarter to build a 16-9 margin that would carry them to the win.
With 14 penalties flagged between the conference rivals, there were many man-advantage opportunities and both teams capitalized frequently. The Jumbos finished four for five in extra-man opportunities and Wesleyan was four for nine.
Tufts finished with a 52-45 advantage in shots and won the groundball battle 35-28.
Schoenhut finished with three goals and an assist while Ben Andreycak had two goals with an assist and Bowers tallied twice. Kane Delaney recorded three groundballs and two caused turnovers.
Justin Schick finished with 12 saves in the Wesleyan net. Mitched scored three goals and Elliot Albert was superb defensively with five caused turnovers. Kevin Campbell picked up four groundballs and caused two turnovers while also scoring twice.