Men's Lacrosse | Shorthanded Jumbos drop home opener against Hamilton
Published: Monday, March 11, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 16:03
The No. 5 Jumbos opened the 2013 season with a thud Saturday, falling 10−9 to Hamilton College at home. The Continentals, who finished 5−5 in their first season in the NESCAC last year, used a four−goal second period and a 52−28 advantage in shots to stifle a Tufts squad missing 27 players who were suspended in January for two games after a third−party investigation found that they had behaved inappropriately at a volleyball game in September.
The loss is the Jumbos’ first on Bello Field since the 2009 season, when Tufts suffered a 12−9 defeat at the hands of Western New England University in early May. Ben Saperstein, a medical redshirt senior, is the only current player to have ever experienced the taste of defeat in Medford.
Saturday’s performance was tempered by the fact that the Jumbos were limited to just 20 players for the contest. In the opening quarters Tufts looked jumpy, working to get the kinks out and the chemistry flowing. However, the Jumbos staged a late comeback in the closing minutes, evidence that despite the result, Tufts has the talent and resolve to succeed in adverse conditions.
“We didn’t execute our fundamentals at all times in the game, which led to us not playing to the best of our ability,” freshman attackman Connor Bilby said. “That being said, the only thing we can control now is how we respond to the Hamilton game and focus on getting better in our [Tuesday] game against Connecticut College.”
Junior Paul Armideo led the Continentals’ charge with a four−goal performance, while classmate Bryan Hopper and senior midfielder Luke Walsh also notched two goals apiece. Hamilton jumped out to an early 1−0 lead when Armideo struck fewer than three minutes into the contest.
First−year attackman John Uppgren and senior short−stick defensive midfielder Sam Diss started off the Jumbos’ scoring attack with two goal to put them ahead 2−1, but Armideo notched another goal with 4:30 remaining in the opening stanza to tie the game. Hamilton opened up the second period by hammering three more goals past Tufts junior keeper Patton Watkins to put the Continentals up 5−2.
Just after junior attackman Jack McDermott answered to pull the Jumbos within two, Hopper battled through heavy traffic in front of the cage to put another goal past Watkins.
The first half ended in excitement for the Jumbos, however, as senior defenseman John Heard carried the ball upfield in transition and buried a shot into the top right corner for his first career goal. The Jumbos controlled the next face−off, and Bilby just missed the opportunity to put another shot on cage as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
At intermission, the Jumbos faced a two−goal deficit but looked to carry the momentum of Heard’s goal into the new half. Midway through the third period, McDermott found Uppgren on the top of the circle. Uppgren quickly unloaded, squeezing a shot past several defenders and through the legs of Hamilton sophomore keeper Will Driscoll.
Leading by just one, Hamilton extended its lead once again. Armideo curled around the right side of the cage from X, netting his third score of the day. Less than a minute later, McDermott drove in toward the cage to polish off another Tufts goal — again, the Jumbos trailed by just one.
Faced with a moment that could turn the game back in the Jumbos’ favor, Armideo took over. The attackman finished a textbook transition goal to push Hamilton’s lead back to two, and in the ensuing face−off long−pole defender Nate Menninger took the ball to the rack and bested Watkins to put the Continentals up three going into the final stanza.
Hamilton added yet another goal in the opening moments of the fourth, with Walsh closing in for a score to make it 10−6. But that goal lit a fire under the Jumbos, who are no strangers to late comebacks.
In the closing minutes, a nervy Tufts team began to put the pieces together. Freshman midfielder Chris Sawyer sniped a shot from the left wing, hitting the top left corner to pull Tufts within three. Two minutes later, McDermott found Bilby curling around the side of the crease, hitting the freshman with an outlet to put the Jumbos within two.
Hamilton, however, locked things down for the next five minutes. Although the Jumbos contested, they failed to put another goal together until less than a minute remained. As time ticked down, Uppgren crept around the left side of the cage and attempted to bury a low−angle shot past Driscoll. On a heads−up play, Saperstein followed the rebound and drilled a shot into the bottom right corner of the net, allowing Tufts to close within one.
The clock read 0:33, and the Jumbos stepped up to the face−off X hoping for a quick equalizer. Instead, Hamilton won possession on the face−off and carried the ball downfield. In a scramble behind the cage, Watkins gained momentary possession and attempted to get off a quick outlet pass, but the Jumbos failed to clear midfield before the clock ticked to zero.
Saturday’s loss was not the result the Jumbos had hoped for, but head coach Mike Daly’s squad is not concerned with blemishing its record. Instead, he views the game as an inspiration to focus even more intensely on the important measure of improvement — Tuesday’s matchup against Conn. College.
“I think the game exposed some areas we need to improve upon as a team, regardless of who steps on the field,” McDermott said. “When you’re out there, it’s your responsibility to do your job—I felt that I personally could have done more to help our team against a very talented Hamilton team.”