The Tufts men’s lacrosse team had a commanding start to the season on Saturday in its first game and home opener with a 27–7 win over Colby. Tufts brought the intensity in the first quarter against a Colby team that looked defeated in warmups. The game was an opportunity for a lot of young players to see their first minutes on Bello Field and have a positive contribution to the outcome of the game. While the underclassmen played a significant role, the upperclassmen and veteran players controlled the game in every facet. The Jumbos made a statement to start their 2022 campaign playing against the Colby Mules
In the first quarter, the Jumbos came out striking, scoring 12 goals before the Mules were able to net one. The final score at the end of the first quarter was 15–1 which put the Jumbos squad on pace to score 60 goals after the final quarter. Junior midfielder Jack Boyden lit up the first quarter with four goals and two assists, adding another goal and many more assists before the end of the game. Another achievement came at the stick of first-year Charlie Tagliaferri, who scored his first collegiate goal with 11 minutes left in the first. The Tufts squad bombarded the Colby goalie with 28 shots in the first 15 minutes alone.
The Tufts preseason All-Americans including midfielder Camden Kelleher and attackman Mac Bredahl, both of whom are seniors, combined for eight goals and seven assists. Bredahl, who was also named preseason player of the year, started off hot, leading the Jumbos in goals and assists while earning a spot on the USILA Div. III Men’s Lacrosse Team of the Week.
Although an immense amount of talent returned to the team from last season, the Jumbos had to replace the offense of both attackman Max Waldbaum (A‘21) and midfielder Bryce Adam (A‘21), who were significant contributors to the Jumbos’ high-scoring offense last season. Despite these losses, Boyden and junior Kurt Bruun filled in the gaps left by Waldbaum and Adams, combining for 13 points.
The performances of Boyden and Bruun showed the impressive depth of the Tufts team. Members of the team know that some of their biggest competition of the season will be their own teammates who they play against everyday at practice.
Impressive performances did not only come from upperclassmen. The freshman class had multiple players contribute to the victory. First-year Parker Merril proved himself in the faceoff by having 78 percent win rate winning 14 of his 18 faceoffs. First-year defensemen Michael Ayers and Joey Waldbaum tallied their first goals of their career as well. Connor Garzone, a sophomore, got his first start in goal and made seven saves. Another sophomore, Kevin Christmas, made a crowd-pleasing play with a sliding assist from the ground to first-year Max Ettinghausen for his first goal. These impressive plays are a product of an inclusive team dynamic where there is little to no divide between the talent of players of different class years.
“I came in from a place where freshmen were treated like freshmen, but here we are treated as equals,” Merril said. “The seniors want us to succeed as much as they want themselves to succeed which creates a really inclusive and supportive team dynamic that is conducive for us, as underclassmen, to succeed.”
In such a commanding win, the energy on and off the field was through the roof. Fans anticipated the return of the popular and highly ranked Tufts team and were excited to show their support. On the sidelines, teammates performed coordinated, elaborate cheers and chants throughout the game, adding to the positive energy of the day. First-year and sophomore players, who were experiencing Bello Field for the first time with a crowd, were amazed and exhilarated by the immense engagement from the stands.
“It was awesome to have fans,” Merril said. “I know that hasn't been normal for the past two years considering with COVID and everything, so it was great to have everyone, and my parents were able to come up and watch me and my first college game. … The energy on the sidelines was awesome.”
The Jumbos have put the work in throughout the entire school year, whether it was during the offseason or preseason. They have had fitness tests, strength tests, scrimmages and team bonding events to prepare themselves for the season both physically and mentally. Head Coach Casey D’Annolfo and his staff emphasize the importance of going as hard in practice as the team would in game. This mentality prepared Tufts to come out strong and ready for game-level intensity against Colby. The Jumbos see their offseason work finally paying off.
“We’ve been working so hard all offseason,” Merril said. “We’ve had so many practices, way more than we normally would have had as a team, which has definitely helped us get to where we are right now. We’re definitely a couple steps ahead from where we normally are.”
The Jumbos hope to continue their success into the rest of the season. Tufts will face Springfield on Thursday, March 10 and is back on Bello Field for a game against Amherst on Saturday, March 12.