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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, May 27, 2024

No. 4 women’s lacrosse starts season with doubleheader win

Jumbos begin undefeated season with wins against NESCAC and ranked opponents.

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Caroline Cromwell is pictured against Washington and Lee University on March 3.

With a No. 4 national ranking, an impressive playoff run into the NCAA quarterfinals last year and goals to make it to the NCAA Championship this year, hopes were high for the start of the Tufts women’s lacrosse season, and they did not disappoint. Over the weekend, the Jumbos won games against Connecticut College and No. 9 Washington and Lee University and proceeded to beat No. 21 Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Wednesday. Tufts had strong playing across the field, which propelled them to this explosive start.

“We’ve been very excited and working really hard,” senior midfielder Emma Joyce said. “No better way to do it than with a doubleheader right off the bat and another [game] on Wednesday.”

Tufts started their weekend on Saturday with a 174 victory at Conn. College to start off NESCAC play. The Jumbos dominated the game from beginning to end, starting off with four unanswered goals against the Camels and finishing the game with another three goals in a row. Though the Camels weren’t necessarily a challenging opponent for the Jumbos, junior attacker Margie Carden explained that winning NESCAC games are important to the team.

“A big goal for us is hosting NESCACs home this year, because the last couple of years we’ve had to go to Middlebury,” Carden said. “Winning some of those NESCAC games will ultimately help us achieve a national championship because we have a lot of good competition, so taking care of those games and facing some good opponents will then help prepare us for those last couple weekends in May.”

Though NESCAC play is important for Tufts, the real test this weekend was against No. 9 Washington and Lee, and they emerged victorious, 1816. Last season, Tufts lost to Washington and Lee 165, which was their biggest loss of the season.

Junior midfielder Ella Lesperance explained that the Jumbos’ change in mindset from last season to this season helped them win against Washington and Lee.

“[Last year], I think we were a little too confident going in,” Lesperance said.  “You can never be too comfortable, knowing that there’s always someone coming from behind. We changed our mindset, in that we always have to be ready for whoever it is.”  

This year, though, the story was very different.

The game started with two points by Washington and Lee, but Tufts quickly bounced back with two goals in the first quarter to tie the game, 22. The second quarter didn’t look any better for the Jumbos. After a hard fought back and forth quarter, Tufts went into halftime losing 76. But after halftime, Tufts came back, scoring seven goals in the third to take a 13–10 lead. A solid fourth quarter, topped off by Carden scoring the final Jumbo goal of the game, brought the Jumbos up by five, with two and a half minutes left to go. The game wasn’t over, though. The Generals picked up a ground ball, starting a three-goal scoring streak in the last two minutes to bring them back to a two-point deficit, and a final score of 1816.

An important aspect of the Jumbos’ victory was being able to gain possession from the draw. The Jumbos controlled 20 draws to the Generals’ 18. Being able to start with possession, especially in the critical second and third quarters, was important for scoring. Junior midfielder Genna Gibbons and senior midfielder Madeline Delaney were both dominant forces on the draw, with seven and six draw controls respectively.

“The draw was a dominant area of the game for us,” Carden said. “Last year versus W&L … we didn’t win a lot of draws, and I think that was a big reason why the score was that way. We always say ‘win the draw, rule the world’ because you have possession then. I think the draw team did a really great job.”

Along with the draw, there was impressive scoring from the Tufts offense. Carden totaled 11 points last weekend with seven goals and four assists. Carden was honored as NESCAC women’s lacrosse player of the week for her scoring contributions. In addition, Joyce scored eight goals over the weekend, with four against Conn. College and four against Washington and Lee.

On Wednesday, Tufts beat No. 21 MIT 219, propelling the Jumbos to a 30 record to start their undefeated season. The Jumbos were led in scoring by Carden, Lesperance and sophomore attacker Allie Zorn, who gained credit for seven points each.  

The team is excited about their season and is excited to keep working on the skills they’ve established during the first three games. Carden explained that strong playing from all over the field contributed to the wins this week and will continue to help the Jumbos.

“I’m excited to see [improvement] as the season goes on, and we’re learning how to take it to the next level,” Carden explained. “Individually this year, we have a wide range of talent and everyone has their unique skill set. That creates a lot of success on the field when everyone's able to show up [and] do their job.”

Despite this strong start, the Jumbos hope to continue to improve their gameplay in anticipation of difficult opponents in coming weeks.

“These were really impressive wins, and obviously [we’re] so happy, but with good wins, there’s always room for growth,” Lesperance said. “And those being the first couple of games, the potential for growth is huge.”

The Jumbos’ main focus this season will likely be on the NCAA Tournament in May, but it’s a long road to the tournament. In the meantime, the Jumbos will continue to take on an exciting slate of opponents, starting with a home game against No. 13 Trinity College on Saturday at 12 p.m. 

“As a team, we have big goals,” Joyce said. “We want to make it to the last weekend in May and ultimately win a national championship. That’s something that drives us all, but isn’t necessarily what we want to focus on day by day. A goal of ours that we’ve been doing really well is just taking it one day at a time, focusing on that day, whether it’s practice, a game, whatever opponent we’re facing.”

The team is excited to take on all the challenges this season will present and continue to play great lacrosse.  

“Our team has bought into our goals and works hard. It’s the hardest-working team I’ve ever been a part of at Tufts,” Joyce said. “It’s really easy to lead and compete on this team, knowing that everyone has 100% bought into the goals we have and believes in us. There’s never a game or an opponent that we don’t take seriously or take for granted.”