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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, February 26, 2024

Women's lacrosse opens season with decisive conference win

An opponent blocks junior attacker Emily Games during a home game against Wellesley on March 14, 2018.

The No. 10 Jumbos started their season off with a decisive 18–11 win against the Hamilton Continentals on Saturday. Seven different goal scorers combined for 18 goals and 10 assists in a game that highlighted the depth and strength of this year's team.

"The fact that we had seven scorers is great, because it means that we all trust each other on the field, and all have the talent to be able to be a threat against any defense," senior attacker and returning NESCAC Player of the Year Dakota Adamec said.

The Jumbos were the first to strike, dizzying the Continentals defenders by whizzing the ball around their net for a full minute. After a number of passes, junior midfielder Maddie Norman found space in the middle of the fan to convert sophomore midfielder Catherine Lawliss’ pass into a backhanded goal.

The Continentals battled back to take a brief 4–2 advantage. Sophomore midfielder Kirsten Grazewski put the Jumbos on the board for a third goal, before first-year attacker Colette Smith scored her first of five goals by aggressively pressuring Continentals senior goalie Hannah Burrall into dropping the ball. Smith scooped up the ground ball and fired an uncontested shot into the open goal from the eight-meter line to even the score at 4–4.

The score evened again at 5–5 with 5:29 remaining in the first half as the Jumbos adjusted to their opponent’s style of play. Hamilton did not pressure high on the Tufts attackers and instead played a modified zone defense that Tufts was not anticipating. The team spent the first half figuring out how to take advantage. Adamec and junior attacker Emily Games closed out the half with one goal off a one-on-one drive and one goal via a fast break that left Games streaking into the middle of the eight unmarked for an easy goal, respectively.

As the Jumbos settled into a more comfortable attacking rhythm, they stretched their lead out to 15–7. An astounding eight-goal run in the space of 14 minutes secured a lead that the Continentals couldn't recover from. Adamec explained how the Jumbos were able to exploit Hamilton's style of play.

"Since Hamilton didn’t pressure out it allowed us to control the ball movement — we were able to really set the pace and be patient with our looks," she said. "It also allowed us to have really fast ball movement. Since they were on their heels on the eight-meter and didn’t pressure out past the 12, [that] allowed us to just have a day."

Smith’s strength on the attack was highlighted by her four goals during that stretch, with all four goals scored in the exact same manner. She took advantage of a weak matchup to repeatedly execute a strong left side crease take and fired low left-handed shots which found the back of the net.

"At half time we talked about giving Colette the space to go because we liked the matchup that she had," coach Courtney Shute said. "She has great vision that if they had adjusted, we would have found another opportunity out of it. But she was able to take that take a few times in a row and find success for us. She’s had a great start to her collegiate career."

One of Hamilton’s biggest weaknesses was their inability to capitalize on the free positions, which are like free throws in basketball, that they were awarded during Tufts’ run — the team went just 1–5 on such opportunities. A goal could have broken the Jumbos’ momentum and given the Continentals a chance to recover, but on two occasions they missed free positions that then resulted in a turnover in favor of the Jumbos.

"Our team’s momentum picked up when everyone gained confidence," Norman said. "Seeing others be confident on the field gives you confidence to make that risky pass or do something that you’d be scared to do otherwise. When you see confidence in someone else, it helps you have confidence in yourself and others on the team."

The Jumbos’ domination of the draw was another factor that played an important role in the win, with the team gaining control in nearly two-thirds of its chances.Junior midfielder Lily Baldwin, who often takes a more defensive role on the team, is an expert at draw control and came up the field to gain that early advantage for the team. She was responsible for six of the Jumbos' 20 draw controls throughout the game.

"The draw is critical in any game," Norman said. "We always say that if you win the draw then you’ll win the game, because you’re getting more possessions and it can build momentum."

On the defensive end, Tufts’ strength was highlighted by the low number of shots on goal that Hamilton was able to muster throughout the game. The Jumbos took 44 compared to only 26 by the Continentals.

"Making sure that we had twice as many draws as our opponent led to us taking more shots," Shute explained. "Quite frankly we could have shot a little bit better, but we’re going to keep working at that. I think our defense did a good job — they are capable of holding opponents to a lower number of goals against. I was happy with the start and there’s a lot of good stuff to build off of."

Due to cold weather, Tufts’ matchup against MIT this week was postponed, so the team looks ahead to a weekend game against Wellesley. The Jumbos take on the Blue on Saturday at noon at Wellesley.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the women's lacrosse team is playing against Wellesley College on Saturday on Bello Field. The team will be playing against Wellesley College in Wellesley. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Daily deeply regrets this error.