Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/25/15
From Press Release
The Tufts University Men’s Lacrosse team overcame a slow start to earn a 19-11 victory against Lynchburg College as the Jumbos won the NCAA championship for the second straight year and third time overall Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Tufts (21-2) trailed 4-0 early, but rallied to take a 5-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Jumbos out-scored the Hornets 5-2 in the second quarter to lead 10-6 at halftime. A 6-2 third-quarter advantage allowed the Jumbos to pull away.
Junior Conor Helfrich was selected as Most Outstanding Player after winning 23 of 31 face-offs in the game. Junior John Uppgren scored four goals with four assists while senior co-captain Cole Bailey added three goals and four assists.
Senior midfielder Charlie Rubin, a Radnor graduate, had one goal and junior defenseman Jon Sax of St. Joseph’s Prep had two groundballs.
For Lynchburg, Aaron Murphy (Downingtown East) had three goals and two assists while Evan Leeder (Salesianum School) had one groundball.
Head coach Mike Daly’s Jumbos added this 2015 national championship to titles won by the 2014 team over Salisbury (12-9) and the 2010 squad (9-6) also against Salisbury. Tufts was playing in the NCAA final for the fourth time including 2011.
“It’s just special being able to come home and have family and extended family and high school friends come see me end my lacrosse career by helping Tufts win another championship,” said Rubin,who said he had almost 20 friends and family members attend the game. “It’s special.”
Last year, Rubin did not dress for the title game when Tufts downed Salisbury, 12-9, in Baltimore. This season Rubin started all season. The story for Sax was similar; he played sparingly last year and did not dress for the title game. But this year broke into the lineup as the first defenseman off the bench midway through the year and has been a key member of the standout Tufts defense ever since.
How did Sax feel while celebrating a National Championship on his home turf?
“I guess when you ask me that, the first thing I feel is that I absolutely am so grateful and so thankful,” said Sax, who also prepped one year at Lawrenceville School. “I am so lucky.”
Sax, who also played two seasons of football at Tufts, has overcome several major injuries from high school, including a broken leg and a sports hernia.
“I never thought that when I was injured all those times, and all I went through, that this could happen,” he said. “It’s pretty incredible to come home where it all started, and be at Lincoln Financial Field with a big fat smile on your face! I am so grateful.”
Lynchburg (21-3) could not maintain the momentum from a tremendous start. The Hornets had the first 14 shots on goal in the game and scored four times in the opening 8:26 of play. Back-to-back goals by senior Todd Galvin gave Lynchburg a 4-0 lead at 6:34 of the first.
Like a flick of the switch, Tufts turned the momentum. They scored five times in a 4:25 span to take a 5-4 lead on sophomore Zach Riman’s goal with 1:18 remaining in the period. Uppgren had two goals and an assist during the stretch.
“A lot of people try to diagnose and see what our team is doing; but we have a pretty simple system and we don’t change much,” said Sax. “We have a face-off guy like Conor Helfrich who makes it easy for everyone else. That helps our scoring and the defense gets rest. We go as Conor goes and he had an unbelievable day.”
The Jumbo advantage continued into the second quarter, but not before Lynchburg junior Austin Stewart set a new NCAA Div. 3 record by scoring his 108th goal of the season. That opened the second-quarter scoring and tied the game at 5-5.
However, the Jumbos tallied five of the next six goals in the second for their four-goal halftime bulge. Goals by Helfrich, sophomore Tyler Carbone and Rubin came within 39 seconds. Uppgren broke his own school record for points in a season with the 10th Tufts goal at 5:20 of the second quarter.
“I think my goal came off a microcosm of our system,” said Rubin. “We got a tough groundball off a face-off and made some key passes and I wound up wide open on the crease.
“Our mindset today was to play our game and execute fundamentals. They had some talented guys we had to be careful of, but we are confident in how we play and in our style. Our system is about making aggressive plays.”
After scoring the first three goals of the second half to lead 13-6, Tufts had out-scored the Hornets 13-2 since the early 4-0 deficit. Bailey had two of those goals. Lynchburg’s Murphy made it 13-7, but the Jumbos tallied the next three for their largest lead of the game at 16-7 with 5:29 remaining on the third-quarter clock. Uppgren’s over-the-shoulder goal at 5:29 of the third was worthy of ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 Plays of the Day.
Lynchburg would earn a 4-3 advantage over the final 15:39 of the game, but it was too little, too late. Murphy had two of the goals and an assist while Stewart also scored to finish the season with 109 goals.
Murphy led the Hornets with five points on three goals and three assists. Galvin finished with three goals and an assist while junior Dane Angell had a goal and an assist.
Senior Peter Gill, junior Garrett Clarke and sophomore Zach Richman each scored twice for Tufts. Junior Alex Salazar made 11 saves in the Tufts net while senior long-stick midfielder Jeff Chang came up with six groundballs.
Junior Chris Hawley made 20 saves in goal for Lynchburg. Senior Eric Lombardo caused three turnovers on defense and came up with five groundballs. Senior Chris Hower also won five groundballs.
With this four goals and four assists today, Uppgren finished the season with 76 goals and 53 assists for 129 points to break his own single-season scoring record. He also edged Stewart for the NCAA Div. 3 scoring title as his 129 points were three better than Stewart’s 126.
Tufts tied the school record for victories set last season, giving the team a 42-4 mark during that span.
“It’s coach (Mike) Daly,” said Sax, explaining the reason for the program,’s overall success. “I never had more respect for a man than Coach Daly. You can ask anyone on our team or anyone that ever played for him or coached with him – what that guy does here is incredible.”
Sax said his teammates have helped him rise above his adversity.
“I just think about trying to be like them,” he said. “We have incredible role models as teammates. I am just trying to keep up the standards. They are the most unbelievable guys.”
Sunday’s victory is the 13th NCAA title won by a Jumbo team or individual since 2010. Tufts teams have won seven NCAA championships in men’s lacrosse (2010, 2014, 2015), men’s soccer (2014), field hockey (2012) and softball (2013 and 2014). Individually, Julia Browne captured the 2010 Division III women’s singles crown in tennis, Johann Schmidt won the 2012 and 2014 NCAA men’s one-meter diving championship, Jana Hieber took the 2014 NCAA Women’s Outdoor Track 400-meter hurdles title and Mitchell Black won both the 2015 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor 800 meters races.