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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Men’s lacrosse holds on to take down Conn. College, moves up to No. 1

Cam-Delcristo-1-2-1
Men's lacrosse is pictured in the April 5 game against Williams.

Although most teams would be satisfied with a 14–11 victory against Williams, an in-league opponent who sits in the top half of one of the best Division III lacrosse conferences in the country, the No. 1 Tufts men’s lacrosse team is not one of them. After all, the Jumbos have every right not to be, sporting an 11–0 record with an average margin of victory of 10.64 goals against some of the best squads in the nation. They are the only ranked team that is undefeated following previous No. 1 Christopher Newport’s loss to No. 2 Salisbury 16–7 on Saturday. After Wednesday’s Williams contest, the Jumbos faced off against an underappreciated Connecticut College on Saturday, and while the 15–14 victory was again closer than the team might have hoped for, perhaps it was the grit brewing from the discontent with the previous game’s result that allowed it to prevail.

Senior attacker Tommy Swank discussed how the squad planned to learn from the Williams game to defeat Conn. College.

“[We concentrated on] getting back to what our team focuses on, like how we want to play as a team and more so limiting the mistakes that we had, and not so much what Williams was doing necessarily,” Swank said.

The Jumbos exchanged goals with the Camels in the opening minutes of the game until Swank assisted first-year long-stick midfielder Ben Frisoli, giving the squad its first lead of the match at 3–2. Then, after Connecticut’s Bobby Chang evened things up on the extra-man opportunity, the Jumbos went on a 3–0 run with goals from sophomore midfielder Charlie Tagliaferri, first-year midfielder Jack Regnery and senior midfielder Jack Boyden. Ultimately, this run allowed the squad to enter the half with an 8–5 lead.

However, in a true display of the Camels’ determination and talent, they opened up the second half with a 5–0 run to take the 10–8 lead. Frisoli was impressed by the performance of this Conn. College squad.

“Conn. played a very good game. They came out and played [their] hearts out all day. … We need to work on starting faster,” Frisoli wrote in a message to the Daily. “They are a good team and proved that Saturday.”

Nonetheless, the Jumbos refused to go away after the Camels’ run and went into the final quarter with the contest even at 11 goals. Finally, in the fourth quarter, the Jumbos went on a 3–0 run to put their stamp on the game as Regnery tied things up at 13, and both Swank and sophomore defender Michael Ayers scored off of assists from senior attacker Kurt Bruun to make it 15–13. Although the Camels scored one after this run, senior faceoff specialist Mason Kohn won the following faceoff to clinch the 15–14 victory. Swank discussed the difference in the squad’s ability to perform late when the game was on the line.

“It was just being relentless and knowing that as a team we had to have a next-play mentality, whether it be the next ground ball or the next shot or the next defensive possession,” Swank said. “Stuff like that allowed us to be successful, and ultimately [we] ended up with the outcome we wanted, even though it wasn’t picture perfect. … But, a win is a win.”

Though Swank does not take victories for granted, Saturday’s game certainly provided some lessons to consider for the upcoming game tonight at 6 p.m. on Bello Field against Bates, as well as for the rest of the season.

“We need to treat every game, practice, lift, everything we do like it’s the championship week. Focus on the task in front of us,” Frisoli wrote. “And everything we do is us versus us. We can be the best team, but the only guys that could hurt us is ourselves.”

This confidence, focus and commitment to the improvement process are some of what separates the Jumbos from other squads. Another aspect that team members referred to is team culture.

“The culture is special on our team because no one is afraid of speaking up. It doesn’t matter if you’re the senior captain and best player on the team or a freshman who doesn’t get a lot of playing time. We’re not afraid of keeping guys accountable and telling them when they are wrong,” Frisoli wrote. “We also try to not let little things slip out of place and keep our standards the same for the whole year. Folding our clothes, keeping our lockers clean, etc. If we stop doing these small detailed things they will turn into something bigger.”

As the school takes pride in its men’s lacrosse team earning the top spot in every major poll, the squad itself will undoubtedly accept it and move on. The Jumbos concentrate on getting better every single day, and their job is not done. It is just getting started. While the squad itself refuses to look past the next game or task, spectators anxiously await May, when games will be fought for with a National Championship in sight.