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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Women’s lacrosse narrowly loses to No. 1 Middlebury on Senior Day

Jumbos face stiff competition from reigning champs Middlebury.

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Elsa Schutt is pictured in the April 13 game against Middlebury.

It was a big weekend for NESCAC women’s lacrosse with a game between the top two teams in the conference. The Tufts women’s lacrosse team, then ranked No. 4, played No. 1 Middlebury at home on Saturday. Though the Jumbos lost 14–13, the tight game showed just how competitive they will be for NESCAC and NCAA championships. Beyond the chance to compete against the best-ranked team in the division, this was an especially exciting game for the Jumbos because it was Senior Day.

The game started as an even exchange with the defenses dominating in a low-scoring quarter. The first quarter finished at 3–3. The Jumbos struggled to gain offensive momentum or momentum off the draw in the second quarter, only taking three shots. In the second quarter, Tufts scored two goals while Middlebury scored seven. The third quarter, though, showed Tufts’ skill on the field, with a major comeback against Middlebury. Tufts went on a five-goal run to tie the game.

“I think it shows our resilience,” sophomore attacker Allie Zorn wrote in an email to the Daily. “We had a really rough second quarter but were able to bounce back in the third to make it a tie game. A lot of teams would struggle to find that motivation to come back from being down six at one point to the best ranked team in the country, so I think it is a testament to our competitiveness, perseverance and ability to both create and capitalize on momentum.”

The fourth quarter was an extremely competitive back-and-forth that resulted in the one-goal loss for Tufts. Junior midfielder Genna Gibbons explained that the second half of the game demonstrated the Jumbos’ skill and competitiveness against top opponents like the Panthers.

“I think the second half in particular shows the true character of this team,” Gibbons wrote in an email to the Daily. “We know how to battle back and find a way while trusting each other. We have a lot left to prove to ourselves and our opponents. Yesterday lit a bigger flame in our team to be even better.”

The Jumbos are a skilled enough team that it’s often not necessary for them to play a consistently good four quarters to win a game. But to win against a team like Middlebury, Tufts needs to be at their best through the entire game.

Though they may have struggled with consistency throughout the game, there’s no question that the Jumbos had strong playing across the field. The Tufts defense played an incredible game, causing eight turnovers and getting 19 ground balls. Junior goalie Pascale de Buren had eight saves.

The Tufts offense was able to push through Middlebury’s tough defense, especially during their strong third and fourth quarters. The leading scorers for the Jumbos were junior attacker Margie Carden, senior midfielder Madeline Delaney, junior midfielder Ella Lesperance and Zorn.

Though the game was a loss for Tufts, gaining experience against Middlebury will be important for them going into the postseason, where Tufts will continue to play against the higher-ranked NESCAC teams. Given the stature of Middlebury, the loss actually moved Tufts up to No. 3 in the national poll. The ability to play competitively against Middlebury will be an important asset for Tufts, who will likely see Middlebury again in the NESCAC or NCAA tournament.

“I think one thing to take away is we need to fight harder from the first whistle to not get ourselves into a hole,” Zorn wrote. “But I think this game showed us how tough we are when things get hard, and we are faced with adversity. I think we learned a lot tactically about how to play against their unique defense, and hopefully we will get another chance at them in the NESCAC tournament.”

After being seemingly unstoppable for most of their season, their previous two losses against Wesleyan and Middlebury have reminded Tufts that they need to work hard in order to beat the division’s top teams, Gibbons explained.

“I think we know that this team is capable of a lot more than what our two losses have shown,” Gibbons wrote. “Nothing is given, every single game, goal, save, ground ball and draw is earned so making sure that mentality stays consistent going forward is important.”

Tufts has two more NESCAC away games to round out the regular season. They’ll play No. 14 Amherst College on Saturday and No. 23 Bowdoin College on April 24. The NESCAC tournament will begin on April 27. The Jumbos are hoping to use this tough game as an opportunity for growth, Zorn explained.

“I think this loss hurt, but is likely to be incredibly motivating with the tournament coming up,” Zorn wrote. “We know what we can do better and now know with a few adjustments we are capable of beating the #1 team in the country, so I think there is a lot of excitement brewing even if yesterday wasn’t the outcome we wanted. This is just the beginning of our potential as we step into the later part of the season and look ahead to the tournament.”