Tufts vs. Wesleyan
March 28, 2009
The Game Story:
MEDFORD -- The ninth-ranked Tufts University men's lacrosse team overcame a 9-5 deficit in the second half to earn a 12-10 victory against #12 Wesleyan University in an intense NESCAC game at Bello Field on Saturday afternoon. Senior tri-captain Clem McNally (Far Hills, NJ) scored four of his game-high six goals in the second half to lead the Jumbo comeback.

Tufts improved to 7-0 overall and 4-0 in NESCAC with the victory. The Jumbos and Bowdoin, which beat Connecticut College 12-6 on Saturday, remained tied atop the league with undefeated records. Wesleyan, which was playing without Inside Lacrosse Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Spike Malangone (Lake Grove, NY), dropped to 6-2 overall and 2-2 in the league.

Wesleyan senior Russell Follansbee (Deerfield, MA) and McNally both scored two goals in the first quarter, which ended with the Cardinals having a 3-2 lead. After Jumbo sophomore Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY) tied it at 3-3 with 13:44 to play in the second period, Wesleyan went on a four-goal run. A tally by long-stick Gabe Kelley (Bethesda, MD) a 3:13 of the second gave the visiting Cardinals a 7-3 lead.

Two Tufts goals by sophomore D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) closed the gap to 7-5, but Wesleyan answered with strikes 15 seconds apart to go ahead 9-5 on a goal by John Froats (Yorktown, NY) at 11:42 of the third period. Stymied offensively for most of the afternoon up to that point, the Jumbos would score seven times in the final 23 minutes of play to win the game.

Three straight goals by McNally, two assisted by Hessler (two goals, five assists), brought Tufts within 9-8 at 1:16 of the the third quarter. Wesleyan scored with 25 seconds remaining in the third, by senior Adam Kirk (Port Jefferson Station, NY), and they took a 10-8 advantage into the fourth. That would be their last goal of the game.

Into the fourth, another Hessler to McNally connection at 10:39 made it 10-9, and then Hessler set up sophomore Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) at 9:49 to tie the score at 10-10. The Jumbos took their first lead of the game (11-10) when Witko scored with 5:49 left in regulation . The Jumbo defense then held the fort and senior Chase Bibby (Marblehead, MA) iced it, scoring the 12th Tufts goal with 20 seconds remaining. Tufts out-scored Wes 4-0 in the fourth.

The seven-point games by McNally and Hester led Tufts, whose 12 goals were their fewest this season. Follansbee had two goals and two assists for the Cardinals, while Kirk scored twice and junior Lonny Blumenthal (Ballwin, MO) finished with a goal and two assists.

The final statistics were very close, with Wesleyan leading 32-27 in shots, Tufts leading 30-29 in ground balls and Wesleyan ahead 14-12 in face-off wins. The Cardinals were 2 for 4 on man-up opportunities while holding Tufts to 0 for 4. Junior Mike Droesch (Setauket, NY) won 10 face-offs for Tufts and led the hosts with six ground balls. Junior Matt Ward (Boxford, MA) won 13 face-offs for Wes, while Kelley and senior Jason Ben-Eliyahu (East Setauket, NY) both controlled five ground balls. Tufts senior goalie Matt Harrigan (Darnestown, MD) made nine saves and Wesleyan's Mike Borrero (Bayport, NY) stopped five shots.