Tufts Reaches First NCAA Title Game, Will Face Salisbury

PHOTO COURTESY OF TUFTS ATHLETICS

Tufts improved to 10-0, holding off St. John Fisher for a 12-10 victory in Saturday's first NCAA Division III women's lacrosse semifinal.


Its season didn’t begin until April, but it will end where Tufts hoped it would — playing in the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship Game.

The Jumbos held off St. John Fisher 12-10 to advance to the final for the first time in school history. They’ll meet up against Salisbury, a three-time national champion that will be playing in its ninth national championship game after beating Denison 20-10 in Saturday’s second semifinal.

Tufts reached the NCAA semifinals for the first time in school history in 2019 and was off to a 3-0 start and ranked No. 2 nationally when the 2020 season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The NESCAC was one of the last leagues to announce its plans for 2021 and the Jumbos that were one of just seven league schools that ultimately decided to play this season.

Tufts played just a six-game regular season schedule, including an 11-5 win over Division I Dartmouth, but was more than ready when the NCAA tournament began. Four wins later and the 10-0 Jumbos are playing for a title after a thrilling semifinal game.

An early five-goal run gave Tufts a 6-1 lead against St. John Fisher in a game it never trailed, but certainly had plenty of drama.

St. John Fisher cut the margin to a single goal twice, the last at 11-10 on Sydney DeGirolamo’s goal with 6:40 still to play. Tufts’ Emily Games answered with her game-high fourth goal with 5:03 remaining to give the Jumbos the 12-10 victory.

Anna Clarke added three goals and an assist for Tufts and Molly Laliberty made nine saves to earn the win.

DeGirolamo had a game-high five points (2g, 3a) for St. John Fisher (18-2) and Brittany Halpin, Kathleen Salanger and Alyssa Sproule each scored twice for the Cardinals.

In the second semifinal, Salisbury, which beat Tufts 14-11 in the 2019 semifinals, got hat tricks from four different players in its 20-10 win over Denison.

Riley Hartman, Lydia McNulty, Erin Scannell and Lauren Valenti each scored three times as the Gulls improved to a perfect 19-0.

Salisbury led 8-4 at halftime and scored the first three goals of the second half to take command at 11-4.

Denison answered with three straight goals of its own to get within 11-7 with over 23 minutes left. Delaney Hill, Scannell and Hartman then put together another three-goal Salisbury run to put the game out of reach.

Liza Farnham and Casey McTague each scored three times for Denison, which finished the season 12-2 and reached the NCAA semifinals for the first time in program history.

Salisbury and Tufts will meet in Sunday’s championship game in Salem, Va., at 5 p.m. The game will be streamed live on ncaa.com







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