The last NESCAC game on Farley-Lamb Field might not have gone the way the Williams College men's lacrosse team had wanted. Sunday did not go Williams' way either.
"We're No. 2 in the region. If people watched this game, they know we were in the game against the No. 1 team in the country," Williams coach George McCormack said after the Ephs dropped a 18-11 decision to Tufts in the NESCAC championship game.
McCormack and the Ephs were hoping for one of three at-large bids to the 31-team NCAA Division III tournament. Unfortunately for Williams, it did not get one of those three slots. St. John Fisher, Stevenson and Christopher Newport earned the three at-large bids to the tournament. The other 28 slots go to conference tournament champions.
The Jumbos will head to Rochester, N.Y., this weekend for a pod hosted by St. John Fisher (10-3). Tufts will play Babson (5-0) in one game, while the hosts will play SUNY Maritime (8-0) in the other game.
There are five New England Division III teams in the tournament. Joining Tufts and Babson in the field are UMass Boston, Lasell and Endicott.
Cabrini will host a first and second round pod, and are the reigning Division III national champions. Cabrini beat Amherst in the 2019 championship game.
Tufts came into Saturday's game ranked first in the nation in the Nike/US Lacrosse Division III Top 25, and second in the US Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's Top 25. Williams was ranked 12th in the US Lacrosse poll and 10th in the USILA poll.
With the win, the Jumbos (6-0) earn NESCAC's automatic bid to the tournament, one of 28 automatic bids permitted. Williams will be a candidate for one of two Pool C, or at-large bids.
This was the second consecutive season where Williams and Tufts met up in the NESCAC Tournament final. Back in 2019, Tufts won 17-16 in overtime. Williams got an at-large bid and earned its way into the Division III Final Four. There was no tournament last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Williams (4-1) got a hat trick from sophomore attack Alex Park. The three-goal night doubled his output for the season. Pearse Glavin and Tim Saffold each had two goals and an assist for Williams.
Tufts, the highest-scoring team in NESCAC, got a seven-goal night from Bryce Adam, while Max Waldbaum had three goals. Adam chipped in with two assists. Six of Adam's seven goals came in the second half.
"I thought it was very evenly matched for the vast majority of the game," McCormack said in a post-game phone call with The Eagle. "I thought at the very end, their transition game — which is one of the best transition games in the country — took advantage of our low numbers and got some runs on us. I thought it was a really fun, well-matched game."
Williams led 3-1 after the first quarter and 6-4 at intermission, thanks to a goal by Glavine with 5:26 left to play in the quarter. Eph goalie Harry Gahagan, who McCormack said should be a favorite to be the NESCAC player of the year, had stopped 11 shots in the opening half.
The Jumbos scored the first three goals of the third quarter, taking a 7-6 lead on Bryce Allen's tally. Exactly 30 seconds later, Park set up Michael Greenberg, who went one-on-one with Tufts goalkeeper Joe Theuer and beat the senior to tie the contest at 7-7.
Williams took its last lead off the ensuing faceoff, when Alex Kitt won the faceoff for the Ephs. Cory Lund, Williams' leading scorer who had a goal and two assists, fed Saffold, who bounced one past Theuer, making it 8-7 with 6:23 left.
Adam scored a man-up goal with two seconds remaining on the penalty and Waldbaum made it 9-8 with 3:34 left. He took a pass from behind the goal from Adam, and was open in front of the cage.
Off the faceoff, Kitt won another faceoff, got the ball ahead for Lund, who found Glavine for the game-tying goal with 3:26 to play. Williams never got the lead back.
Jack Boyden scored with 2:29 to play, and the third quarter ended 10-9, for Tufts. The Jumbos scored the next six goals, and that was that.
"It was a combination of turnovers in the offensive end or on clears and quick restarts. They take a mad dash down to the goal. That's what they do. They try to overwhelm you with numbers," McCormack said. "It's line anything. You turn over the ball in basketball and they get a fast break. You turn over the ball in lacrosse and you give up a fast break. That's what they do. We were a little gassed because we don't have subs on either side of the ball."
Williams came into the game with only 18 players dressed.
"That's what made it very impressive for us. I don't think people understand what we went through this year, with not having substitutions," he said. "We had two guys go down.
"We know how well we played today, considering our circumstances, so it was pretty cool."
Tufts 1 3 6 8 — 17
Williams 3 3 3 2 — 11
GOALS — Tufts: Bryce Adam (7); Max Waldbaum (3); Cam Kelleher (2); Garrett Samuelson (2); Matt Treiber (1); Mac Bredahl (1); Jack Boyden (1); Kurt Bruun (1). Williams: Alex Park (3); Tim Saffold (2); Pearse Glavin (2); Cory Lund (1); Michael Greenberg (1); Alex Kitt (1); Zachary Romrell (1)
ASSISTS — Tufts: Bredahl (4), Cam Kelleher (3), Adams (2), Waldbaum (1), Treiber (1), Aidan Hesse (1). Williams: Lund (2), Glavin (1), Romrell (1), Park (1), Jacob Lazris (1).
SAVES — Tufts: Joe Theuer (9). Williams: Harry Gahagan (15).