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Saturday marked the end of a historic season for the Jumbos, who defeated the Calvin Knights 2–1 to claim their third national title in five years — a feat achieved by only two other schools in the tournament’s 45-year history.In doing so, Tufts completed its first-ever unbeaten season since the program began keeping records in 1946 with a mark of 18–0–3.
The Jumbos (16–0–3) traveled to Greensboro, N.C. Wednesday ahead of their Final Four match against the University of Rochester Yellowjackets (16–2–2) Friday. Going into the weekend, Tufts is the only undefeated team still in the NCAA tournament.
For student-athletes, sports are a source of fun, a way to stay in shape or a social activity, but most importantly, they are a passion. Many of these individuals will pour thousands of hours into training during their college careers, and for the elite few, playing their sport in college is a pathway to the major leagues. In Div. III, it is widely touted that “academics come first,” and pursuing a sport beyond the collegiate level is uncommon and unexpected. However, rare opportunities give some students the chance to compete on a national level, with four such individuals on this very campus.
After Tufts' last two games of the regular season went into overtime, the team's focus against Stevens was to get on the board early and retain the lead.The Jumbos piled on the pressure early, with one of their best chances coming at the 4:44 mark.Junior midfielder/forward Gavin Tasker, in his usual spot on the left wing, fed junior forward Joe Braun who cut, unmarked, into the box, received the ball and fired a shot on target. However, senior goalkeeper Aaron Henry was there to make the save, his first of eight total.
“We’re thrilled to get a bye," coach Josh Shapiro said. "We were rewarded for our success in the season but also the strength of our schedule ... We are certainly excited but at the same time we can’t wait to get playing -- two weeks off between games feels like a long time and we want to get back out there and compete together."
The Jumbos wrapped up the regular season with a pair of wins that secured them the No. 1 seed in the NESCAC Tournament and a No. 2 national ranking, their highest this season. In doing so, the team finished without a single regular season loss, a first for the program since 1946, the earliest year for which its record is available. The Jumbos will host the eighth-seeded Colby Mules (7–6–2, 3–5–2 NESCAC) in the quarterfinal round of the NESCAC Tournament on Sunday.
Tufts ceded its first non-win of the season against Middlebury on Saturday with a frustrating 1–1 draw in double overtime. Tufts gave away a penalty less than two minutes into the game, briefly forcing the team on its back foot for the first time this season. The Jumbos managed to equalize to keep their unbeaten streak alive, before bouncing back emphatically with a 3–1 win over the Babson Beavers on Tuesday night. With these results, Tufts moved to 10–0–1 on the season but slipped from No. 3 to No. 5 in the national rankings.