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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, June 15, 2024

Women’s lacrosse takes down No. 13 Amherst in 17–12 victory

The Jumbos bounce back from a loss to No. 1 Middlebury.

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Kathryn Fernandopulle is pictured in the April 13 game against Middlebury.

On Saturday, the Tufts women’s lacrosse team traveled to Amherst, Mass. to engage in a high-stakes battle with the Amherst College Mammoths. This clash between two collegiate lacrosse powerhouses was not just a game but a testament to the Jumbos’ prowess, as they entered the field ranked No. 3 in the country, facing a formidable Amherst side ranked No. 14. Sophomore attacker Allie Zorn discussed how the team’s approach differs against highly ranked teams.

“We definitely, in practice, will change things up with the defense for what we’re playing against,” Zorn said. “We’ll have a scout group that’ll try to mimic the other team. … I wouldn’t say it’s drastically different. We treat every opponent pretty similarly in terms of how hard we prepare for them. But, we’re definitely conscious and aware of what we expect to see from everybody.”

Hoping to stay near the top, the Jumbos came out firing and jumped to an early two-goal lead with goals from senior midfielder Madeline Delaney and junior attacker Caroline Conaghan. Despite the early lead, three goals from Amherst and another Tufts goal scored by Delaney saw the first quarter end with the teams tied at three goals apiece, setting up what was sure to be a thrilling rest of the game.

In the second quarter, the Jumbos displayed their nationally recognized offense, netting seven goals on eight shots. The goals came from senior midfielder Emma Joyce; junior midfielder Ella Lesperance, who netted two; first year midfielder Schuyler Lloyd; sophomore midfielder Elsa Schutt; and Zorn, who also found the back of the net twice in the quarter. While Amherst was able to string together two goals toward the end of the quarter with three total tallies, Tufts went into halftime up four with a score of 10–6.

With energy flowing, the Jumbos went into the break feeling confident that they could continue this scoring onslaught and get a win to bounce back after their recent loss to the Middlebury Panthers. However, the momentum swung during the third quarter. Amherst came out of the half ready for a comeback. Tough performances at the faceoff circle saw the Jumbos struggle to maintain possession, allowing the Mammoths to stay on the offensive the whole quarter and put in five goals to end the quarter only down one goal to the Jumbos with a score of 12–11. While goals from Zorn and sophomore midfielder Kate Deehan ensured that Tufts had the lead going into the fourth quarter, the pressure was most definitely back on. The fourth quarter saw the Jumbos get the momentum back, as Joyce netted an unassisted goal early on before a string of goals from junior attacker Margie Carden, Lesperance and Zorn pushed the Jumbos ahead to a five-goal lead with a little over 5 1/2  minutes remaining. Carden tallied one more after Amherst got its sole goal of the quarter, and this heated game ended in a 17–12 win for Tufts.

“We definitely started winning more draws [after] we had a rough third quarter in the circle. So just getting more possession was good,” Zorn said. “[First-year goalie] Sophie Powless came in in net, which I think gave us a lot of energy defensively, [forcing Amherst to play] a little bit more on the defensive end and then [we were able to capitalize] on offense.”

Lesperance finished with a game-high 7 points on three goals and four assists, while Zorn finished with a team-best four goals and added two assists. The Jumbos’ offense was lethal on Saturday, outshooting the Mammoths 29–24 and finishing all 14 of their clear chances. On the defensive end, junior defender Genna Gibbons finished with two ground balls and two forced turnovers, while junior goalie Pascale de Buren and Powless split time, combining for four saves. With this victory, the Jumbos clinched a home NESCAC quarterfinal game on Saturday. With one game remaining in the NESCAC regular season, Tufts must wait to see who their opponent will be, and they faced No. 24 Bowdoin College on Wednesday, winning 17–7. The victory sees Tufts secure an impressive second place behind an incredibly dominant Middlebury team.

With the NESCAC playoffs and the national championship approaching, Zorn talked about the excitement the Jumbos have.

“I definitely feel like we have a really good chance this year to do some damage,” Zorn said. “ [I’m] definitely disappointed by the losses earlier in the season to two of the higher-ranked NESCAC teams [in Middlebury and Wesleyan], but [I’m also] excited by the opportunity to get back at them. I think everyone wants to see those guys later. Obviously [we are] focusing on the game right in front of us, but [we are] just excited about the opportunity to show what we feel like we fell short of a little bit earlier in the season. And hopefully [we will] win a NESCAC championship and national [championship this year].”