MEDFORD, Mass. – Never trailing, the No. 7 Amherst College men's lacrosse team punched its ticket to the program's first-ever Final Four as the Mammoths edged No. 2 Tufts University, 13-11, behind a seven-goal first quarter Wednesday afternoon at Bello Field.
NCAA Quarterfinalists in 2011, 2015, and 2016, the Mammoths improve their all-time NCAA postseason ledger to 12-6 with the victory and advance to the Semifinals for the first-time in program history.
With the win, Amherst improves to 17-3 on the season, while Tufts closes out 2019 with a 19-2 overall ledger. Amherst returns to the field on Sunday, May 19 when they take on the winner of No. 1 RIT and No. 5 Williams in the NCAA Championship Semifinals.
Striking 55 seconds into the contest, Brogan Mahon '19 gave the visitors and early edge as he drove own the right side and sent a shot five-hole, before Matt Solberg '20 doubled the Mammoths' advantage 1:19 later as he powered a shot from 10 yards out under the bar, stick side.
A low bounce shot by Garrett Samuelson that tucked inside the far post got the Jumbos on the board at the 11:44 mark, however that score was quickly countered by Mahon' second goal of the day off an assist from Evan Wolf '19.
Matt Treiber got Tufts back within one with 9:29 on the clock, while a 50-yard sprint downfield by Chase Yager '22 set up a Wolf score at the 6:58 mark.
Potting back-to-back goals in a 36 second span, Samuelson and Max Waldbaum each found nylon for the Jumbos to deadlock the sides at four all with 5:50 to play in the opening quarter.
Controlling momentum behind a stellar five save effort by Amherst keeper Gib Versfeld '21 in the final five 5:34 before the horn, the Mammoths added three goals to the board to own a 7-4 lead after 15 minutes of action.
Capitalizing on a face off win, long stick midfielder James Crovatto '21 drove a crank shot from 15 yards out into the netting, before Jackson Herrick '20 juked around a defender and sent a shot into the bottom right corner at the 2:03 mark. Wolf closed out first period scoring with nine seconds on the clock off a feed from Colin Minicus '20.
A low scoring second stanza saw only three goals scored between the sides, with Amherst owning a 2-1 edge to hold a 9-5 lead at intermission.
Samuelson's third goal of the matchup at the 6:20 mark stood as Tufts' lone score at the second.
Responding 39 seconds later, Solberg faked the shot before finding Jon Coffey '20 in the slot, while Herrick found the back of the net with 13 seconds remaining before the buzzer as he spun off a defender and sent a bounce shot past the Jumbos' keeper.
Picking up where they left off, Amherst tallied the first two goals of the third to make it a 4-0 unanswered run.
Doubling up Tufts, 10-5, 50 seconds into the third quarter, Wolf sent a shot over the goal line, before he found Coffey cutting to net two minutes later for the goal with a defender in his face.
Countering in kind, Tufts strung together a 4-0 run of their own over a nine-minute span behind goals from Samuelson, Treiber, Danny Murphy and Ben Connelly to cut the Amherst lead to 11-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
Cutting the Mammoths lead to one 58 seconds into the fourth, Connelly converted off a dish from Murphy to push the score to 11-10.
Rolling off a defender after a dish from Wolf two minutes later, Coffey regained Amherst's two-goal cushion, however a man-up goal from Tufts' Samuelson with 10:27 mark once again made it a one-goal game down the stretch.
Netting the final dagger for Amherst at the 2:15 mark, Solberg ripped a low shot into the nylon to push the score to 13-11 before Dylan Finazzo '20 iced the game with a huge win on the ensuing faceoff.
BY THE NUMBERS
- In between the pipes, Versfeld (4-2) racked up 19 saves for Amherst in the winning effort, while Mason Pollack (15-2) made 16 stops for Tufts in the loss.
- Wolf headlined the Mammoths' offense with three goals and three assists for six points, while Coffey also netted three scores on the day. Finazzo was stellar for Amherst at the face off X, going 17-26 and picking up six ground balls, while Jimmy McAfee's '20 seven ground balls were a game-high.
- The Mammoths owned the edge in face offs (18-28) and ground balls (35-28) and did not have the chance to capitalize on a man-up opportunity, while Tufts held the advantage in shots (48-47) and went a perfect 2-for-2 up a man.