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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Fall Sports Previews


The Jumbos will return to the gridiron Sept. 14 as they open the season in a home game against the defending NESCAC champions, the Trinity Bantams. In the weeks to follow, their schedule will not get any easier, as they are set to face off against the Williams Ephs and Amherst Mammoths, who finished the 2018 season with records of 5–4 and 8–1, respectively. Tufts will inevitably look to get redemption early in the season, as its only two losses in the 2018 season came at the hands of Trinity and Amherst. 

Additionally, the Jumbos will have a new face under center following the graduation of former quarterback Ryan McDonald (LA’19), who along with being both the leading passer and rusher for the Jumbos in 2018, was named the 2018 NESCAC Co-Offensive player of the year. After three years with McDonald at the helm, the offense will look for new leaders not only in the backfield but also at the wide receiver and offensive line positions. The Jumbos graduated their top three receivers this past spring, along with two All-NESCAC offensive linemen. The defensive side of the ball will see less of an overhaul, as the Jumbos’ top three tacklers from the 2018 season return in the fall. Coming off of his third straight first-team All-NESCAC selection, rising senior linebacker Greg Holt will return to Ellis Oval to lead the defense for his final season. Although it may be difficult, the Jumbos will look to improve upon their 7–2 record from just a season ago and ultimately aim to take home a NESCAC title.


Men’s Soccer

Last year was a year of dominance for the Tufts men’s soccer team, who inked a storybook season that included a perfect undefeated record,a whopping 12 shutouts and a 2–1 victory over Calvin College in the NCAA finals to clinch the Div. III crown. Throughout the postseason, the Jumbos stomped through a gauntlet of challengers that saw them boast an impressive 13–2 scoring differential in favor of the Jumbos.

Looking ahead to 2019, the team looks to return a similar squad after graduating four seniors. The roster boasts enviable depth, headlined by a sturdy collection of talent and experience in eight rising seniors, including Joe Braun, who led the team with seven goals last season. The rising sophomore and junior classes also include eight players apiece.

The amount and prestige of returning players, all boasting significant postseason experience, virtually ensures Tufts a spot among the Div. III elite and a great shot at repeating its incredible feats from the previous season. Tufts will look to kick off its run at the 2019 crown with a home game versus Framingham State University on Sept. 3.


Women’s Soccer

With a stellar 9–4–2 regular season record and a No. 4 finish in the ever-competitive NESCAC, the Tufts women’s soccer team qualified for its second-straight NCAA tournament berth last fall.

In the first round of the tournament, hosted at William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y., the Jumbos defeated the Penn State Behrend Lions 2–0 off of two early goals from rising junior forward Liz Reed. But their season soon ended in the second round with a 1–0 double overtime loss to the William Smith Herons, who were playing on their home field.

Coach Martha Whiting now enters her 21st season as head coach of the Jumbos and will look to continue to lead her program to success in a tough NESCAC division. Offensively, the Tufts squad should pick up where it left off, as Reed and rising junior midfielder Sophie Lloyd led the way last season, scoring 10 and seven goals, respectively. In the net, however, the Jumbos graduated Emily Bowers (LA’19), who started at goalkeeper practically every game since she was a first-year.

Tufts is slated to begin the fall season with a non-conference matchup at home against Emerson on Sept. 4. The first NESCAC game falls on Sept. 7 as the team will travel to Williamstown, Mass., to take on Williams. Formidably, this year’s schedule also features eight straight games against NESCAC opponents to close out the season.  


Men’s Tennis

The No. 19 nationally ranked Tufts Jumbos rallied hard for an 8–9 overall record and a 4–5 NESCAC conference mark in 2018–19. The team also secured its spot in the NESCAC tournament for the first time in three years, yet ultimately fell to the No. 6 Middlebury Panthers, 5–3.

Coach Karl Gregor detailed the team’s improvement and focus on improving its doubles game as crucial to the past year’s success.

“The biggest thing I was focusing on was ways to improve our doubles,” Gregor said. “We spent a considerable amount of time on doubles and were way over .500 in doubles this year. It really helped in getting us momentum.”

While the Jumbos displayed flashes of brilliance, they struggled to break through in matches against top 10 nationally ranked opponents, going 0–7 against those teams. In particular, Tufts suffered two heartbreaking 5–4 losses to then-No. 7 Wesleyan and then-No. 6 Williams in the final sets of both matches.

In the 2018–19 season, the Jumbos consisted of a young team led by its lone senior, co-captain Ross Kamin (LA’19). This season, however, is different. The majority of the team will feature upperclassmen, with rising junior Boris Sorkin at the helm at No. 1 singles. Sorkin has quickly established himself as one of the most talented athletes to play for Tufts tennis, having been awarded to the 2019 NCAA Div. III All-American singles team, making him the first men’s tennis Jumbo to earn the title since 2002.

With a roster full of seasoned upperclassmen, the Jumbos seek to establish themselves among the very best, hopefully advancing deeper in the NESCAC tournament and breaking into the top 10. Tufts kicks off its fall preseason at the Middlebury Invitational in September. 


Women’s Tennis

The Jumbos finished off an average 2019 season with a record of 5–4 in the NESCAC (9–10 overall) and ranked no. 9 in the nation. For the first time since 2016, the team didn’t make it past the first round of the NESCAC tournament, falling 5–2 to the Amherst Mammoths. While the Jumbos seemed to make a comeback during their first NCAA tournament match in a 5–0 sweeping victory against the Stevens Institute of Technology Ducks, a shocking 5–0 wipeout by the Middlebury Panthers in the next round promptly ended their season.

Despite disappointment in the NCAA tournament, a highlight of the season came in the form of Tufts’ 5–4 win over the Williams College Ephs on March 22. The victory ended a longstanding 35-match, 28-year losing streak against the Ephs. Following the graduation of two of its key players, Tomo Iwasaki (LA’19) and Otilia Popa (LA'19), the team is now powered by underclassmen. Rising sophomore Maggie Dorr led the squad her first season, playing first singles and first doubles, and looks to do the same this year. It’s difficult to say how many first-years the team will add to the mix this season, as coach Kate Bayard holds try-outs that include recruited athletes and walk-ons each fall. However, it’s safe to say that whoever makes the cut will face fierce conference competition, with Wesleyan fresh off its first NCAA championship and four NESCAC rivals (including Wesleyan) finishing the season ranked in the top seven nationally. 


Field Hockey

This fall, the distinguished Tufts field hockey team — who finished last season ranked No. 4 in the country — will look to capitalize on its dominant 2018 campaign, which saw the team fall just short of a title in both the NESCAC tournament and the NCAA Div. III championship finals. Despite dominant performances against almost every team they faced, the Jumbos were denied an otherwise perfect record by one in-conference rival: the Middlebury Panthers. The Panthers, who ended the season with a 17–1 record atop the NESCAC along with both a conference and national crown, were the only team to defeat the Jumbos in 2018, thus cementing Tufts’ record at 19–3 for the season

Following the departure of six influential graduating seniors, including two All-Americans, coach Tina Mattera — who is in her 16th year leading the Jumbos — will be looking to guide her team against the Panthers, and, in the process, hopefully capture Tufts’ second-ever national title



Two seasons away from its 2017 perfect conference record (23–7, 10–0), the Tufts volleyball team looks to improve upon its 2018 campaign (16–10, 6–4) this fall and hopefully return to the NCAA regional for the first time in two years. The team, led by Tufts alumni and coach Cora Thompson, was defeated 3–2 in the NESCAC semifinals by a Bowdoin team that eventually went on to win its third NESCAC championship.

Despite the graduation of two seniors, including outside hitter/opposite MacKenzie Bright, the team enters the 2019 season in more than capable hands. The Jumbos are led by the efforts of sophomore and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Cate Desler, who led the team in both total kills, with 247, and total points per set, with 3.4 total.


Men’s and Women’s Cross Country

Both the Tufts men’s and women’s cross country teams found success last season, with both teams qualifying for NCAA championships to complement their already relatively successful 2018–19 campaigns. The men’s team capped off its season with a 25th place finish at the NCAA championship, a great step forward for a team that missed the previous two NCAA championship meets altogether

Although the men’s team lost eight key seniors — including Brian Reaney, who was the Jumbos’ fastest runner in the 8k at the NCAA championship — the team looks to emulate its success with a roster of 24 expected returning players. Likewise, the women’s team finished the season in a promising position, earning a 12th place finish in the NCAA championship race last November, along with a fourth-place finish in the NESCAC championship. Despite graduating six seniors — four of whom led the team with the four fastest times in the team’s NCAA performance — the team looks to its returning talent to hopefully return to a top-30 nationally ranked team position in the fall.



The Tufts co-ed sailing team is back in action for the fall, kicking off on Sept. 8 with a tour of regattas in Boston, Rhode Island and Maine in its first weekend of racing. The team graduated 14 seniors in 2019, including team co-captains Jack Bitney, Ian Morgan, Chris Keller and Sabrina van Mell. Together, they led the Jumbos through a total of 98 events throughout the year, culminating in an 11th place finish last spring at the Co-ed National Championship Finals. Nevertheless, the 56-member roaster remains one of the youngest on campus, with two-thirds of members from the Classes of 2022 and 2023.

Rising sophomores Charlie Hibben and Ansgar Jordan will have the chance to build off of outstanding rookie performances last season. The then-first-years dominated on home water, leading Tufts to win the Nickerson Trophy at the New England Freshman Championships on Oct. 28, 2018, and contributing throughout the season in the A and B teams.

Rising seniors Emily Calandrella and Emma Clutterbuck as well as junior Matthew Galbraith will captain the team in the 2019—20 season.

One of the few Div. I teams at Tufts, co-ed sailing competes in the Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association and faces some of the toughest competition in the nation. Included among its many formidable adversaries are NESCAC rival Bowdoin College, as well as half of the Ivy League. 



The Tufts men’s crew first varsity eight capped its 2018–19 campaign with a fourth-place finish at the National Invitational Rowing Championship (NIRC) and a fifth-place run in the final of the New England Rowing Championships (NERC), the latter of which paved the way for the top boat’s best result in the event in 27 years. The postseason left the Jumbos in fourth place in the NESCAC behind Wesleyan, Trinity and Bates. 

The team graduated a total of 11 seniors, including four seniors in the first boat and second-team All-NESCAC rower James Miller as well as former co-captains Ryan Bell and Isaac Mudge.

Junior captain and first-team All-NESCAC rower Rick Boer, as well as senior co-captain Mats Edwards — who has been in the first eight every spring since his first year — are among the eight returning members of the first and second boats looking to improve upon last year’s performance. Joining them will be a large contingent of incoming rowers from the Class of 2023 that will be tasked with filling in much of the gap left by last year’s graduates.

The women’s team found particular success in the second varsity eight, which ended its season with a second-place finish at the NIRC. The fourth-place runs for the third and second boats — alongside a win in the petite final for the first eight at the NERC the week prior — helped to solidify the team’s place as a top contender among the NESCAC teams in the field. Both squads are due to start their fall campaigns at the Green Mountain Head Sept. 29. 



Last season saw Tufts golf take a large step forward, landing a spot in the NESCAC championshipfor its second year in a row. While the weekend ended in a fourth-place finish out of four, the Jumbos look to return with a mostly intact roster that is hungry for more. 

Although 2019 saw the team graduate a pair of seniors, according to rising sophomore Travis Clauson, the returning squad is still young and ready to take the jumps necessary for a run at the title. 

“The team feels that this will be the best chance to win the championship that the program has ever had,” Clauson said. 

Clauson went on to further acknowledge the strong class of juniors, which includes three players — Alex Honigford, Henry Hughes and Harry Theodore — who made the trip to the finals last year. Everyone is excited to return to the sprawling fairways and vibrant greens with an extra year of experience under their belts and to kick off the season with a weekend at the Detrick Invitational in Newington, Conn., on Sept. 7 and 8.

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