Tufts vs. Bowdoin
May 2, 2009
The Game Story:
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. -- The Tufts University men's lacrosse team held Bowdoin College scoreless during the second and third quarters en route to a 10-8 victory in a NESCAC semifinal match-up on Saturday in Vermont. The third-seeded Jumbos will make their second NESCAC Championship appearance when they take on the fourth-seeded Wesleyan Cardinals, a 15-14 overtime winner against top-seed Middlebury, in the title game slated for Sunday at noon. The winner of that game will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Tufts got on the board quickly against Bowdoin after junior Mike Droesch (Setauket, NY) grabbed the initial faceoff groundball and scored at 14:44 in the first. Bowdoin tied it at the 11:00 mark with Owen Smith's driving shot got past Jumbo goalie Matt Harrigan (Darnestown, MD). Sophomore D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) was involved in the next two goals for Tufts, assisting on Ryan Molloy's (Setauket, NY) tally and scoring the first of his team-high four goals at 7:12 for a 3-1 lead. Hessler set the team's single-season scoring record in the game.

Both squads exchanged goals later in the quarter before Bowdoin knotted the game at four apiece with goals by Smith at 1:05 and Steve Thomas' driving bounce shot with 13 seconds left.

After a torrid first quarter, the scoring slowed as the Tufts defense clamped down on the Polar Bears for the next two quarters. During the Polar Bear drought, the Jumbos slowly built a 7-4 advantage. Junior Jamie Atkins' (Concord, MA) goal at 6:57 in the second was followed by an impressive over-the-shoulder tally by Molloy 29 seconds later. Tufts added their seventh goal at 1:58 in the third quarter on a doorstep shot by sophomore Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY).

Bowdoin ended their drought early in the fourth quarter when Cullen Winkler scored at 14:28. Less than a minute later, the Polar Bears cut their deficit to 7-6 on a stutter-step dodge and goal by Matt Legg. Tufts took advantage of a Bowdoin slashing penalty, as Hessler converted the man-up opportunity at 12:47 for an 8-6 lead. Winkler cut it to 8-7 on a nice lefty tally for his third goal of the game at 8:52.

The Jumbos got one back quickly when Hessler's post-up move and score at 8:10 gave Tufts a 9-7 advantage. Tufts got some breathing room later in the fourth when senior Clem McNally (Far Hills, NJ) grabbed a groundball in front of the Bowdoin cage and faked low to high on Polar Bear goalie Jake McCampbell for a 10-8 lead with 3:36 left to play. Winkler responded with his fourth goal for Bowdoin at 2:09 on a sweeping move to his right, but the Polar Bears could get no closer in the final minutes.

Hessler led the Jumbos' scoring attack with four goals and assisting on another, giving him 81 points (40 goals, 41 assists) on the season. That smashes the previous Tufts record of 76 set by Bryan Griffin in 2004. McNally's goal tied the team's single-season record of 49 set by Dan Kollar in 2000. Molloy netted a pair and Witko had a goal and an assist in the game for Tufts, which tied its record for wins in a season with 13. Harrigan earned the win in net, stopping 13 shots.

Winkler led Bowdoin with four goals, while Smith chipped in two tallies. McCampbell suffered the loss, allowing 10 goals and making 11 saves for Bowdoin.