The defending Division III National Champs and #1 seed in the NESCAC, The Tufts Jumbos, host the semi-finals of the NESCAC tournament this Saturday and Sunday
Tufts vs. Bowdoin:
The Bowdoin Polar Bears have surged as of late and knocked off #2 seed Amherst last weekend. By far the hottest team in the NESCAC, the Polar Bears have rattled off five straight wins against quality opponents, including a 15-9 victory over Tufts. Led by First Team All-NESCAC midfielder, Owen Smith, Bowdoin has responded from what seemed like a lost season a month ago. Sitting at 3-6 and about to face their hardest stretch of schedule, most fans had given up on the boys from up north. Nevertheless, they have battled back and have put themselves into a position to pull off an improbable NESCAC title. Standing in their way is a monster of an opponent. Tufts led by Tewaarton finalist and NESCAC player of the Year, DJ Hessler, can score the ball at will and have proven that they know how win big games. After a big win at Trinity to take over sole possession of first place in the NESCAC a month ago, the Jumbos have limped to the end of the regular season with two losses and a few games that were much closer than anticipated. However, if last week’s 12-6 win against Conn. College meant anything, it is that Tufts knows when to turn it on. Look for Tufts to get back to their old ways of dominance and cool off the red-hot Polar Bears.
(quick example of Tufts potent transition game)
Trinity vs. Middlebury:
(Dudes sweating themselves in youtube videos= J-BRO)
Middlebury is the perennial power and Trinity is the power of right now. When the two teams met in Hartford earlier this year, Trinity made many uncharacteristic mistakes that led to 12 Panther goals and caused the Bants to miss numerous open shots within five yards. It seemed during that game that Trinity was unsure of how to act now that they were no longer the underdog. As a result, they reverted to the sloppy play of last year and let a weaker Middlebury team embarrass them on their home field. In order for Trinity to win, the defense anchored by senior captain Brendan Newland and First Team All-Leaguers defensemen Teddy Bascom, and goalie PJ Johnson, must take control of the game early. If they can energize the team from the outset, then the strong attack of Jeff Hebert, Rob Nogueras and Greg Brennan/Kevin Looby will be able to start ripping twine against Middlebury’s Second Team All-NESCAC goalie, Ryan Deane. This match-up will come down to who makes fewer mistakes, so look for Trinity to play a much more composed game and avenge the April 16th loss.
Despite Tufts late-season slide, it is impossible to not pick them to win this tournament, especially on their home turf. They have too many weapons and too much experience to not make another strong postseason run; however, Tufts will have a huge target on its back and an upset here is very possible.
Be sure to check out the action this Saturday at Noon on Bello Field in Medford, MA.