AMHERST, MA – First-year attacker Amy Craig (Denver, CO) scored a career high five goals, including the game-winner and the Jeffs' final three scores, to lead the Amherst College women's lacrosse team over visiting NESCAC foe No. 11 Tufts University, 10-8, on Wednesday afternoon. The win gives Amherst at least the No. 2 seed in the NESCAC Postseason Tournament, set to begin on Sunday.
Junior defender Emery Sweeney's (Darien, CT) midfield speed was instrumental in the early minutes as Amherst built a 4-1 lead on the strength of two goals from Craig off a pair of assists from junior attacker and reigning NESCAC Player of the Week Alyssa Briody (Hopewell, NJ). Briody caused a turnover by Tufts goalie Gillian Kline (Chevy Chase, MD), snatched the ground ball, and fed Craig for a sweet shot from the left side at 21:45. Just three minutes later, the two connected again, as Briody found Craig wide open in front of the goal, forcing a Jumbo timeout to regroup.
Senior attacker Dena Miller (Denver, CO) responded for Tufts, netting an unassisted tally at 8:49 before sophomore Maddie Hoeg (Shoreham, NY) notched the first of her pair, burning her defender and burying a left-handed bullet with just over four minutes remaining in the half. Sophomore Linda McEvoy (Rochester, NY) was a stone wall in goal, turning away six shots – including three from point blank range – in the first half. The Jumbos finally got the ball rolling and rattled off three goals to end the period and go into the break with the score knotted at 5-5.
Junior Rachel Lewis (Denver, CO) grabbed the opening draw control of the second half, but the teams traded possession in the first few minutes, before Hoeg put the hosts on top with a free-position tally at 24:04, sparking a crucial three-goal spurt for the Jeffs. Briody notched a score just 16 seconds later, and then fed Craig a third time after just 23 more ticks to get Amherst out to an 8-5 lead. Tufts junior midfielder Jackie Thomas (Needham, MA) narrowed the lead to two, converting an assist from classmate Lauren Murphy (Hingham, MA) at 22:52, but neither team could get the ball in the goal over the next 18 minutes. McEvoy picked up three more clutch saves in the span, and the Amherst defense denied Tufts time and time again. Lewis picked up four ground balls, while rookie Mary Noonan (W. Roxbury, MA) and junior Liz Wise (Scarsdale, NY) each forced a pair of turnovers.
Murphy made it a one-goal game with 5:24 remaining, but Craig answered with her fourth goal, off a dish from senior tri-captain Scotty Hanley (Sparks, MD), when a botched Tufts double-team left her wide open in the circle. Murphy tried to keep the Jumbos in it, scoring a second unassisted tally at 2:41, but Briody snatched the ensuing draw control and Amherst ran out the clock. A foul from Kline in the final minute put her behind Craig on a free-position shot, for an easy insurance goal.
Amherst dominated the midfield, winning the ground ball and draw control battles 15-8 and 13-6, respectively. Briody finished with a goal and three assists, while Hanley added a score and two helpers. Murphy led the Jumbos with a pair of goals and an assist, while Kline posted three saves.
Amherst returns to action on Saturday when they host third-ranked Middlebury College at 1 p.m. in their final regular season contest. A win assures Amherst of the number one seed and a first-round bye in the NESCAC Tournament.