AMHERST, Mass. – The sixth-ranked Amherst College men's lacrosse team used three goals by Kane Haffey '16 and a 21-save effort by Cody Tranbarger '17 to help the Jeffs to a convincing 12-6 victory over No. 3 Tufts University in Saturday afternoon's NESCAC showdown at Pratt Field.
With the win, Amherst has now won five games in a row and improves to 13-1 on the season, 8-1 in league play, while Tufts moves to 12-2 overall, 7-2 in NESCAC action. Saturday's win for the Jeffs is the program's first against the Jumbos since a 15-13 victory dating back to April 16, 2003.
Amherst controlled the tempo of the contest from start to finish, and used a four-goal first quarter to highlight a first half that saw the Jeffs stake a 7-1 lead at intermission.
Dylan Park '16 put the Purple & White on the board at the 11:18 mark on a feed from Charlie Gill '16, before Eric Grein '15 and Quinn Moroney '16 fired in unassisted goals to give Amherst a 3-0 edge with 7:37 to play in the first 15 minutes. With 2:11 to play in the first quarter, Haffey collected his first score as Michael Litner '16 delivered the assist to complete the extra-man opportunity goal and give the Jeffs a 4-0 cushion.
In a back-and-forth start to the second stanza, Tufts struck for its first marker with 6:20 on the clock as CJ Higgins found the back of the net to make it 4-1. Less than two minutes later, Gill found Litner who ripped a shot into the nylon, and then Litner dished to Haffey who contributed his second man-up goal of the contest to make it 6-1 with 3:18 to play in the second quarter. Gill then provided his third helper of the game as Max Keeley '18 found pay dirt with 2:47 remaining in the half to give the Purple & White a commanding 7-1 advantage at intermission.
Tranbarger was stellar for Amherst between the pipes in the opening 30 minutes of action, making nine saves, while his Jumbos' counterpart Alex Salazar made 16 saves despite allowing seven goals as the Jeffs held a 36-17 advantage in shots in the first 30 minutes of play.
The third period saw the teams trade eight goals as Amherst entered the final quarter with an 11-5 lead. Chris Albanese '17 fired in a feed from Gill who picked up his fourth assist of the game, before Coley Bailey answered for Tufts. Haffey then capitalized on a pass from Park to notch his third strike of the game, before Garrett Clarke responded for the Jumbos. Gill then scored the Purple & White's third extra-man goal with 9:37 to play in the third quarter following a pass from Moroney, but Tufts answered through Zach Richman who scored after a pass from Peter Gill to make it 10-4 with 6:16 on the clock. Kevin Curry '15 provided Amherst's final tally of the frame less than a minute later, and Gill registered his lone score of the afternoon with 2:25 left in the quarter set the score at 11-5 after 45 minutes of play.
In the fourth quarter, Amherst held a slim, 12-10 advantage in shots. Litner tabbed an unassisted goal with 8:42 remaining in the game to extend the Jeffs' lead to 12-5, before Higgins scored following a dish from Chris Sawyer with just six seconds on the clock to set the final score at 12-6.
Tranbarger finished with seven of his 21 saves in the final quarter to help secure the win and collected a team-high six groundballs.
Haffey, Ian Kadish '18, Matt Virgilio '15 and Rob Butko '16 picked up four groundballs each, while Connor Crump '16 accounted for four of Amherst's nine caused turnovers in the winning effort. Gill was terrific in distribution as he provided a goal and four assists in the win.
Conor Helfrich finished with seven groundballs to lead Tufts, while Sawyer, Richman and Jake Gillespie added four each. Helfrich was 13-for-22 on faceoffs.
Salazar finished with 29 saves in the losing effort as both goalies combined to make 50 stops.
Amherst, which now stands alone at the top of the NESCAC standings, closes out its regular season Wednesday, April 22 at Trinity College at 4:30 p.m.