Men’s lacrosse falls in OT thriller

Will Gentilello

Men’s lacrosse (15–3 overall, 8–2 in the NESCAC) lost to Tufts 17-16 after overtime in Sunday’s NESCAC championship game. The men advanced to the tournament final for the first time since 2008, with an 11-8 victory over Amherst in Saturday’s semifinal round. 

“I’m very proud of our effort,” head coach George McCormack said after Sunday’s loss. “Tufts was a great opponent and to be tied after four quarters speaks to the type of game it was. Our players left it all on the field and, as a coach, that’s all I can ask.”

The Ephs opened their weekend by defeating the Mammoths for the second time this season. The men started strong out of the gates, securing a 5-1 lead in the first quarter. Brendan Hoffman ’20 took advantage of two man-up opportunities to net two goals, and he scored again in an unassisted tally with 8 seconds left in the quarter. Kevin Stump ’20 netted the other two goals, with assists from Cory Lund ’21 and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Jake Haase ’22.

The Mammoths regrouped and blanked the Ephs in the second quarter, netting three goals and bringing the score to 5-4 with the Ephs in the lead at halftime. 

Building on their second-quarter momentum, the Mammoths outscored the Ephs 4-2 in the third quarter, taking an 8-7 lead.  The Ephs’ defense, however, rallied in the fourth quarter, preventing any Mammoths shots from making it to goal.  

Hoffman overpowered his defender and bounced in a shot to tie the game at 8-8 with 12:59 remaining. The tie-breaking goal came from John Hincks ’20, who jumped to snare a rebound, caught the ball and slipped it past Mammoth goalie Gib Versfeld. Haase then shot over the goalie’s right shoulder, securing a 10-8 lead for the Ephs. The final goal of the day came from Lund, assisted by Haase. 

Eph goalie Harry Gahagan ’21 stopped 20 shots by the Mammoths and allowed eight goals, while Versfeld made 18 saves and allowed 11 goals.

“Our defense was spectacular today in holding that potent offense to eight goals,” McCormack said after Saturday’s win. “Defense was the difference in the game.”

With the victory, the team set a school record for the most wins in a season.

Sunday’s loss began with an early 4-1 lead for Tufts. With 1:36 remaining in the first quarter, Hoffman – assisted by Haase – ripped a shot from 15 yards out and scored to bring the score to 4-2. After an Eph timeout, Lund shot one into the back of the net off an assist from Haase, bringing the score to 4-3 at the end of the period. 

The Ephs netted the first goal of the second quarter, courtesy of a rip from Hoffman, who was assisted by Haase, to tie the game with 13:09 remaining. One minute later, the Jumbos answered back to take the lead. Jared Strauss ’21 then tied the game at 5-5. Three minutes after, the Jumbos regained the lead. Seven seconds later, however, Alex Kitt ’21 ripped a shot and scored to tie the game back up, after winning the faceoff.  

With 4:31 left in the half, the Jumbos scored to secure a two-goal cushion at 8-6. Less than a minute later, the Ephs answered back with a goal from Lund assisted by Stump. With two minutes left before halftime, the Jumbos scored twice, establishing a 10-7 lead. Lund netted the final goal of the quarter for the Ephs at the 14-second mark. Lund’s unassisted shot brought the score to 10-8 Jumbos heading into halftime. 

The Ephs maintained their pace of play coming out of halftime, when Hoffman dodged and scored left-handed with only 13:57 remaining. The Jumbos, however, soon answered back with three straight, bringing the score to 13-9. The Ephs ended the Jumbos’ scoring streak when Stump ripped one after a quick touch and feed from Hoffman, with 10:12 remaining. With 18 seconds left in the quarter, Hoffman shot one in the top right of the net to bring the Jumbo lead down to two goals at 13-11 going into the final quarter of play.

The Jumbos started the fourth quarter with two consecutive goals, growing their 15-11 lead. With 7:38 left in regulation, Hincks ended their scoring streak after a backdoor score off an assist from Lund. Less than a minute later, Hoffman netted a second goal to shrink the deficit to two goals. Hincks then scored again in a quick dump off a feed from Haase. 

Twenty seconds later, Haase ripped a shot and scored to tie the game with 5:36 remaining, bringing the score to 15-15. At 4:23, Jumbo goalie Mason Pollack barreled down the field and scored to return the lead to Tufts. This was topped by a goal from Stump 10 seconds later, after an assist from Lund. A scoreless last four minutes led to overtime, with the score tied at 16-16. 

With the Ephs unable to put one in the back of the net after a long possession and three minutes remaining in overtime, the Jumbos took control of the ball. And with 2:05 left, Jumbo Max Waldbaum netted the final goal of the game, securing the NESCAC Championship trophy. 

Gahagan, who played in goal for the game’s entirety, had 12 saves. Jumbo goalie Pollack had nine saves and scored one goal.

Hoffman led the Ephs with five goals and two assists. He was followed by Lund with three goals and two assists, Haase with two goals and five assists and Stump with two goals and one assist. 

The men will host Keene State in the first round of the NCAA tournament today at 7 p.m. The team will graduate Daniel Powell ’19, Dutch Buckley ’19, Ben Wipper ’19, Angus O’Rourke ’19, Mack Rush ’19, Jake Schuckman ’19, Riley van den Broek ’19, Cameron Brown ’19 and Matt Hogan ’19.