May 25, 2014

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Jumbos Come Up Big in DIII Title Win Over Salisbury

by Paul Ohanian | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | May Madness Home

In-Game Blog Replay

 

Above, Most Outstanding Player Cole Bailey spearheaded a monster run that helped Tufts take down its second NCAA title and first since 2010.

Below, Tufts celebrates after the final whistle. (John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com)

BALTIMORE, Md. (May 25, 2014) - On a day when the NCAA honored the 1994 Salisbury Sea Gulls on the field at halftime, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the school's first national championship, it was the high-octane 2014 Jumbos of Tufts University that stole the show.

With the game tied, 5-5, at halftime, No. 6 ranked Tufts exploded for seven goals in the third quarter to seize control en route to a 12-9 victory over No. 2 Salisbury in the NCAA Division III national championship game Sunday. The Jumbos, who finished 21-2, claimed their second NCAA title in five years. Both championships have come with wins against Salisbury in the final.

"I spend a lot of time with these guys," said Tufts coach Mike Daly, "so to have it rewarded like this is pretty darned special."

With Salisbury leading 4-1 early in the second quarter, junior attackman Cole Bailey jump started Tufts' comeback with an unassisted goal at 7:03. The Jumbos had gone scoreless for over 22 minutes since taking the early 1-0 lead in the opening minute. Bailey then assisted on three more goals in the quarter – including two by attackman John Uppgren - as the Jumbos evened the score by intermission.

"They got off to a fast start and I think we got a couple of lucky bounces," said Bailey, who finished with one goal and five assists and was named the Most Outstanding Player. "I guess we took advantage when it bounced our way and we got it going."

Bailey, one of three Jumbos to score at least 100 points this season, led the nation in assists this year. He finished with 65 for the season and helped the Jumbos set a new Division III tournament record with 45 assists in four postseason games.

Tufts also broke the NCAA season record for goals (all divisions), with 423, and sported a nation's best 18.7 goals per game heading into the final. All who witnessed their explosive third quarter display can vouch for their legitimacy.

Despite playing without junior Chris Schoenhut, who led the nation with 80 goals but was injured in last week's semifinal victory against RIT, Tufts had no shortage of firepower on display. Six different players scored in the third quarter, led by back-to-back markers to start the run by sophomore Ben Andreycak. His second, at 11:57, gave the Jumbos a 7-5 lead.

Donovan Lange ended a 10-minute Sea Gull scoring drought and briefly pulled the Gulls back to within one with his tally at 9:04, but the Jumbos then closed the quarter with five unanswered goals, including three tallies within 48 seconds. Bailey registered his fourth and fifth assists of the game during the run.

"We really just wanted to let the shots fly, not trying to place them too much," said Uppgren, who had two goals and two assists to finish the year with a school-record and nation's best 124 points. "We have faith in our shooters and our offense."

The Jumbos outshot Salisbury 13-7 in the decisive third quarter, and by the time the period ended, Tufts had assumed a 12-6 lead and outscored the Sea Gulls 11-2 over a span of 22 minutes.

NCAA.com Highlights

"We're not one dimensional. We have seven or eight guys who can go out there and produce on any given day and take the game over," Uppgren said. "It was a great team effort on the offensive end."

Salisbury, which also finished 21-2, tried to mount a rally in the fourth quarter, and by the time midfielder Sean Fitzgerald scored his second of the game at 6:52, the Gulls were within three.

But two big saves by Tufts goalie Patton Watkins in the final five minutes, stuffing both Rhett DePol and Mike Kane from in tight, thwarted SU's bid for its 11th national championship. Watkins finished with 17 saves while facing 49 Salisbury shots, including 19 in the final period.

"We fought to the bitter end and had a couple opportunities in the fourth quarter right on the crease to close that game down to a one-goal game, which we didn't quite get," said Salisbury coach Jim Berkman.

"We probably should have started a little earlier on the run than we did," said senior midfielder Greg Korvin, who finished with one goal and two assists. "We had our opportunities but didn't finish them all."

In the end, it was the Tufts offense that ruled the day. The 12 goals allowed were the most against Salisbury this year, and the seven goals allowed in the third quarter were the most against the Gulls in any quarter this year. Salisbury entered the game ranked ninth nationally in scoring defense at 6.32 goals against.

"We were focused on the gold trophy," said Daly. "That takes care of just about anything else within a lacrosse season."

Notes: Tufts senior Beau Wood scored one goal and finished with 18 postseason goals, one short of the NCAA's single-tournament record shared by two players....The Tufts defense limited Salisbury to just one extra-man goal in five opportunities...Salisbury senior Alex Taylor finished with nine saves in goal and 575 career saves, third highest in program history...Salisbury now has five national runner-up finishes in addition to its 10 titles...Attendance for the game, announced as a combined crowd with the Division II final also played Sunday, was 22,219.


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