Tufts Clips Bowdoin in NESCAC Semifinal Heartbreaker

Tufts Clips Bowdoin in NESCAC Semifinal Heartbreaker

MEDFORD, Mass. - In a crazy finish as thunderstorms loomed overhead, Tufts senior Ryan Molloy scored with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Jumbos an 11-10 victory over Bowdoin College in the semifinals of the NESCAC Men's Lacrosse Championship on Saturday afternoon at Bello Field. The seventh-seeded Polar Bears, who had defeated Tufts 15-9 to finish the regular season on April 29, and then won 14-9 at two-seed Amherst in the conference quarterfinals on May 1, likely finish their season at 8-7.

With 12 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and Bowdoin with possession of the ball in a 10-10 game, goalie Jake McCampbell launched a pass towards the Tufts goal that Jumbo goalie Patton Watkins intercepted. Watkins then flung the ball back towards the Bowdoin end and senior D.J. Hessler caught it and passed to Molloy, who faked and finished to give the top seeded Jumbos (14-2) a berth into the conference final tomorrow at noon.

Bowdoin had rallied from a 10-5 deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 10-10 on a goal by sophomore Billy Bergner at 4:09 of the fourth. Polar Bear junior Mark Flibotte scored three times during Bowdoin's late five-goal run that tied the score.

In the first half the visitors out-shot Tufts 25-17 and won all six face-offs, but Watkins made 12 saves and the Jumbos led 3-1. Bowdoin scored first on a goal by senior Ben Chadwick, the only tally of the first quarter at 4:39. Hessler set up Tufts goals by Sean Kirwan and Matt Witko early in the second quarter as the Jumbos took a 2-1 lead. Junior Geordie Schafer added an unassisted goal with 2:13 left in the second for the 3-1 Tufts lead at intermission.

After combining for four goals in the first 30 minutes, the teams would score a total of 17 goals in the second half. The Jumbos were ahead 7-2 at 5:59 of the third quarter with Hessler scoring back-to-back goals early in the period.

Bowdoin then scored three straight goals in a 1:35 span, two by Bergner, to pull within 7-5 at 4:10 of the third quarter. However, the Jumbos got the next three, including two by Witko, to take the 10-5 advantage before the wild finish.

Watkins finished with 19 saves, including eight in the first quarter. With two goals and five assists for seven points, Hessler surpassed the 300 career points plateau for his career. Witko and Molloy both scored three goals for the Jumbos.

Bergner scored three goals with an assist to lead Bowdoin, while Flibotte finished with three and Patrick Lawlor scored twice. Junior Matthew Egan led Bowdoin with five ground balls and McCampbell recorded 10 saves. The Polar Bears finished with slight advantages of 49-46 in shots, 37-33 in ground balls and 12-11 in face-off wins. Bowdoin was two for three on man-up situations, while Tufts finished 1 for 2.