HADLEY, Mass. - Tufts has claimed the top seed in the NESCAC Men's Lacrosse Championship for the third time in four seasons, and will look to win its fifth consecutive league title when quarterfinal play opens on Saturday, April 26. Joining the Jumbos as quarterfinal hosts are Wesleyan, Amherst and Williams. The highest remaining seed following the quarterfinals will host the semifinals and championship on Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4.
Heading into the final day of play, six of the eight seeds were up for grabs. Tufts locked up the top seed last Saturday with a 17-11 win over Wesleyan and followed up with an 18-11 victory against Bowdoin. Wesleyan locked up the No. 2 seed by defeating Connecticut College, 16-7, earlier in the day. Amherst clinched the third seed after defeating Trinity, 18-8, while Williams secured the No. 4 seed with a 9-7 triumph at Middlebury. The Ephs tied for fourth place with Bowdoin and Middlebury, but clinched the right to host the final quarterfinal game when breaking down records against the top eight teams. Bowdoin, Middlebury and Williams went 1-1 against each other and 2-3 against the top four teams, but Williams owned a 4-3 record against the top eight teams, while Middlebury and Bowdoin were 3-4. The Panthers defeated the Polar Bears, 10-4, on March 22 to win the head-to-head tiebreaker, and capture the No. 5 seed.
Tufts (13-2, 9-1 NESCAC) won its first NESCAC title in 2010 to start a string of four straight conference championships. The Jumbos, who have played in all 14 league tournaments, previously won league crowns as the No. 1 seed in 2011 and 2012. Last season, Tufts kept its streak alive by hoisting the trophy as the third seed. The Jumbos boast the top scoring offense in the league, averaging 18.67 goals per game, and won by an average of 11.22 goals in their nine NESCAC victories. Tufts will square off with eighth-seeded Colby (7-7, 4-6 NESCAC), despite the Mules defeating Bates, 12-9, this afternoon. Colby returns to the NESCAC Championship after a one-year hiatus, and is looking to advance to the semifinals for the first time since 2002. Earlier this season, Tufts handed the Mules a 20-8 loss. The Jumbos owned a small two-goal advantage at halftime, but outscored Colby 12-2 in the second half to earn the win. Saturday's game will mark the second time the teams have met in the postseason. In 2009, Tufts defeated Colby in the quarterfinal round, 12-8.
With its win over Connecticut College on the final day of the regular season, Wesleyan (11-4, 8-2 NESCAC) clinched the No. 2 seed. The Cardinals were tied with the Jumbos atop the conference standings throughout the season until last Saturday when they suffered a 17-11 loss at Tufts. The Cardinals have now appeared in 13 of the 14 league championships, moving on to the semifinals ten times, and playing in six title tilts, including last year's 12-8 loss to Tufts. Wesleyan will face Connecticut College (9-6, 5-5 NESCAC) in a rematch. The Camels headed into Wednesday's finale tied for sixth with Williams, but the Ephs owned the head-to-head tiebreaker following a 7-6 win on March 15 that saw Williams score three goals in the fourth quarter for the come-from-behind victory. The Camels have made it to the semifinals twice, most recently in 2012 resulting in a 13-2 loss against Tufts. Wesleyan holds a 2-0 edge over Connecticut College in postseason play with the most recent win coming in the 2010 quarterfinals when the No. 8 Cardinals knocked off the top-seeded Camels, 6-5.
Third-seeded Amherst (12-3, 7-3 NESCAC) has been consistent throughout the season with all three losses coming in conference play, two of which were by two goals or less. The Jeffs have been a mainstay in the NESCAC Championship, earning berths in 13 tournaments, but have not advanced to the semifinal round since 2005 and are looking to play in their first championship contest. Amherst will face sixth-seeded Bowdoin (9-6, 6-4 NESCAC). Bowdoin won nine of its first 11 games of the season, but have struggled down the stretch, dropping its last four contests. The Polar Bears joins Tufts as the only two programs to play in each of the NESCAC Championships, and have appeared in six of the last eight semifinal rounds. Bowdoin owns a 2-1 record against Amherst in conference championship play, including a 14-9 upset victory in the 2011 quarterfinals as the seventh seed. Earlier this season, the Polar Bears overcame a three-goal, fourth-quarter deficit by scoring seven goals in the final frame to hand the Jeffs a 17-15 loss on March 8.
Like Wesleyan, fourth-seeded Williams (9-6, 6-4 NESCAC) will have a rematch of its regular-season finale when it hosts the program's first NESCAC Championship game against fifth-seeded Middlebury (8-7, 6-4 NESCAC) on Saturday. After dropping their season opener, the Ephs rattled off five straight wins, and won three of their last four games to close out the schedule. Williams is making its first postseason appearance since 2010 and its eighth overall. Middlebury started the season 2-5 before an 8-7 win over Amherst jumpstarted a stretch that saw the Panthers win six of their last eight games. Middlebury is making its 13th NESCAC Championship appearance, and leads the league with seven overall titles. However, the Panthers have not captured a trophy since 2007 when they won for the seventh straight year. The only postseason meeting between the two programs came in 2008 semifinals when the Ephs dispatched the Panthers, 11-10, in overtime. Williams later went on to win its only NESCAC crown after defeating Bowdoin by the score of 9-4.
Results for the NESCAC Men's Lacrosse Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
2014 NESCAC MEN'S LACROSSE CHAMPIONSHIP
Saturday, April 26 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Tufts – Noon
No. 7 Connecticut College at No. 2 Wesleyan – Noon
No. 6 Bowdoin at No. 3 Amherst – 2:30 p.m.
No. 5 Middlebury at No. 4 Williams – 1 p.m.
Saturday, May 3 at Highest Remaining Seed
Semifinal Games - Noon | 3 p.m.
Highest Remaining Seed vs. Lowest Remaining Seed
Remaining Quarterfinal Winners
Sunday, May 4
Semifinal Winners – Noon