Tuesday, April 29, 2003

GRIFFIN, ZUPANCIC ARE WEEK'S TOP PLAYERS IN NESCAC

MEDFORD Sophomore attack Bryan Griffin (West Islip, NY/West Islip) of the Tufts University Men's Lacrosse team and senior center fielder Evan Zupancic (Lake Oswego, OR) of the Jumbo Baseball team were voted the New England Small College Athletic Conference's best for their performances during the previous week.

Griffin stated his case as the conference's most valuable player with an outstanding week for Head Coach Mike Daly's lacrosse team. He was the offensive leader in wins over Williams and Wesleyan that secured the team its first home playoff game in nine years. The Jumbos beat Williams on Monday (Apr. 21), 7-6, with Griffin collecting two goals and the game-winning assist. On Wednesday (Apr. 23) at home against Wesleyan, he scored three goals with two assists in an 11-7 victory. That guaranteed Tufts would finish in the conference's top four and play a home game in the first round of the conference tournament.

The Jumbos earned the second seed in the tournament, behind only three-time defending National Champion Middlebury College. Up against seven-seed Bowdoin College in the first round at Zimman Field on Sunday (Apr. 25), Griffin won a back-and-forth game with a goal while falling to his knees with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter for a 14-13 score. He had two goals and three assists in the game. In the only loss of the week, in the regular season finale at Connecticut College on Saturday (Apr. 24), Griffin had three goals and two assists.

For the week, he scored 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points in four games (4.5 points per game). He is the second Tufts player to earn the award this season. Sophomore goaltender Luke Chicco (Merrick, NY/Calhoun) was a co-recipient on March 31. Griffin leads NESCAC in scoring overall with 3.93 points per game, which is 34 goals and 21 assists for 55 points in 14 games. The next point he scores will be the 100th of his career, which includes 28 games, 64 goals, 35 assists and 99 points. More than the number of goals and assists he has, when he has scored them has been most valuable.

The Men's Lacrosse team will play third seed Wesleyan University in the NESCAC semi-finals at Middlebury College on Saturday (May 3) at 3:00. The championship game is on Sunday at noon.

Likewise, Zupancic was the leading force in Baseball's drive to the NESCAC Playoffs last week. Head Coach John Casey's Jumbos entered the weekend needing to win two out of three at Colby College to take one of the two East Division spots in the four-team NESCAC Tournament that will be played May 9-11 at the site of the West Division champion. The senior co-captain tuned up for the important conference play by hitting a two-run, walk-off home run at Huskins Field to give the Jumbos a 3-1 victory in 11 innings over Division II Bentley College on Wednesday. He finished the game 2 for 5 with the two RBIs, a run scored and a stolen base. The home run was his fifth of the season.

Over the weekend, Zupancic did everything you'd hope from a veteran leader when he torched Colby pitching to lead Tufts to a three-game sweep over the Mules. The wins locked up a spot in the NESCAC Playoffs for the third straight year. Tufts won the conference title last season. Zupancic went 9 for 12 in the three games at Colby, a .750 batting average. He scored nine of the team's 31 runs, hit four doubles, worked four walks, drove home three runs and stole three bases. His 5 for 6 with three runs and an RBI led Tufts in a 15-5 Friday win. When Tufts completed the sweep in game two on Saturday, Zupancic was 3 for 4 with five runs scored, two RBIs and three stolen bases.

In four games overall last week, Zupancic hit .647 (11 for 17) and scored 10 runs with five RBIs and four stolen bases. Already the team's career leader in single-season runs (47 in 2002), single-season home runs (11 in 2002) and career home runs (22), he closing in on other career marks with 43 doubles (needs to to tie), 47 stolen bases (needs three to tie.) and 143 runs scored (needs 10 to tie). For the season, Zupancic is hitting .385 and leads the team with 35 runs scored, 10 doubles, five home runs, 18 walks and 12 stolen bases.

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