MEDFORD, Mass. — Senior tri-captain Beau Wood scored seven goals with one assist as Tufts earned its third NCAA championship game berth with an impressive 21-11 victory at Rochester Institute in the national semifinals Sunday.
Tufts made consecutive NCAA championship game appearances in 2010-11, facing Salisbury in both contests. The Jumbos won the 2010 NCAA title and lost in the national finals to the Gulls in 2011.
Sunday’s game at RIT was tied 4-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Jumbos gained an advantage in the game by outscoring the Tigers 6-2 in the second quarter to lead 10-6. Tuftswould never relinquish the lead, as senior goalie Patton Watkins was tremedous with 20 saves. Junior Cole Bailey added five goals with an assist for six points. Sophomores John Uppgren and Ben Andreycak both scored three times for Tufts.
Tufts outshot RIT 51-47. RIT won the ground ball battle 52-45 and were 17 of 20 on clearing attempts. Each team won 18 of 36 face-offs, and went 4 of 7 on man-up chances, while Tufts finished with one goal on four man-up chances.
Casey Jackson led RIT with five points on three goals and two assists, while Allister Warren finished with three goals. Ryan Lee added a pair of goals and Pat Johnston took the loss in net, making 15 saves. Tyler Brooks-Lambert won 17 of 33 face-offs and had 10 ground balls. Matt Hossack caused five turnovers and had five ground balls.
RIT jumped out to a 4-2 lead at 1:54 of the first quarter when Alex Sulesky took a feed from Jackson and scored his seventh of the season. Warren, Lee and Aquin each had goals in the early stages of the quarter. The Jumbos scored two in a row in the final 1:10 of the first quarter, tying the score at 4-4 on Uppgren’s 61st goal of the season with 14 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Tufts took the momentum into the second quarter, taking a 5-4 lead on Bailey’s 48th goal of the season. Aquin and Jackson hooked up for a man-up goal at 11:30 of the second quarter, as Jackson fed Aquin on the doorstep, tying the score at 5-5. After a Bailey goals made it 6-6, Jackson scored off a fast break, taking a feed from Hossack and burying his second goal of the game, tying the score at 6-6.
Tufts took control of the game from there, closing out the first half with four consecutive goals, taking a 10-6 lead into halftime. Bailey scored twice and Woods and Peter Bowers each scored another for the Jumbos.
Wood opened the third quarter scoring with his third goal of the game and 68th of the season, giving the Jumbos its largest lead of the game at 11-6. Aquin took a feed from Warren at 12:05 of the third quarter breaking the Tufts run, cutting the Jumbos lead to 11-6.
Braden Wallaceand Jackson added goals for the Tigers, but the Tufts’ offense was clicking, as Bailey and Wood closed out the quarter with consecutive goals, giving the Jumbos a 15-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Lee and Jackson scored the only two RIT goals in the fourth quarter, while Tufts scored six times to put the game away.
The last time RIT gave up 20 goals in a game was on March 3, 2010, a 20-10 loss to Stevenson. It was Coon’s first game as RIT head coach. The loss Sunday snapped RIT’s 30-game home winning streak during the past three seasons. RIT was in the NCAA tournament for the 16th time in school history.