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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, February 29, 2024

Men's soccer claims NESCAC title

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The Tufts men's soccer team is pictured in its win in overtime against Amherst on Oct. 16.

With victories over Middlebury on Saturday and Connecticut College on Sunday, the Tufts men’s soccer team claimed the NESCAC tournament title. The championship win marks the Jumbos’ third in the last four seasons. 

Sunday’s championship game was a defensive battle, with both teams combining for only five shots on goal across 90 minutes. 

Tufts junior forward Sean Traynor cracked through early for the Jumbos, scoring an unassisted goal just nine minutes into the first half. Only once in the first half did the Camels threaten Jumbo first-year goalkeeper Erik Lauta, who saved their only shot on goal.

Graduate student midfielder Travis Van Brewer padded the lead for the Jumbos in the second half with another unassisted goal that put things out of reach for the Camels.

The defensive prowess of the Jumbos’ back line came to the forefront in the second half on Sunday. The Jumbos only conceded one shot on goal the entire half. 

“Defensively, we could not have been better in these past three games,” Lauta said. “Three shutout wins in the playoffs is a huge accomplishment, and it feels amazing.”

The 2–0 victory marked Tufts’ third straight clean sheet — the team didn't allow a single goal in the entire NESCAC tournament. The NESCAC crown comes back to Medford for the second straight season (after 2020's season was canceled), and for the first time under head coach Kyle Dezotell. 

In a more back-and-forth semifinal, the difference for Tufts came in a goal from first-year midfielder Ethan Feigin, assisted by fellow first-year Anthony Bhangdia. After a wild first half in which both teams took nearly double-digit shots, Feigin finally cracked through to put the Jumbos ahead. The goal was Feigin’s first of his collegiate career. 

“It felt amazing [to score], and there’s truly no better feeling than sprinting over to the corner and celebrating with the whole team,” Feigin said. “I’m really happy I was able to contribute in getting the win.”

Feigin also explained that he was not the only first-year critical to the Jumbos’ success on Saturday.

“[The first-years] really show how every player on the team is capable of making a big impact,” Feigin said. “This weekend, we were unfortunately missing several key players due to injury, and it meant that a lot of us younger guys had to step up and play bigger roles.” 

The Tufts back line held strong yet again, keeping a clean sheet despite a rampant Middlebury attack all game. Lauta saved five shots in another spectacular performance in goal. 

“What makes this team special is the grit and determination we share,” Lauta said. “No matter the conditions, we always come out hungry to win … Losing simply isn’t an option.”

With one championship in the bag, the Jumbos begin the NCAA Div. III tournament this weekend. Tufts will host New England College in the first round on Saturday at Bello Field.