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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Jumbos to host Endicott in first round on Wednesday

MEDFORD -- The Tufts University men's lacrosse team, the NESCAC regular-season champion, has been selected to play in the 2007 NCAA Division III Tournament. The Jumbos received an at-large berth into the tournament and will host Commonwealth Coast Conference champion Endicott College in the first round on Wednesday (May 9) at Bello Field starting at 7:00 PM.

Tickets will be available at the gate on the night of the game starting at 5:30 pm. Admission is $3 for adults and students, and $1 for children under 12. Infants two and under are free.

Head coach Mike Daly's team will be making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA's. The Jumbos are 12-3 overall with victories over other NCAA selections Middlebury (7-6 in OT during the regular season), Wesleyan (9-6), Endicott (12-10) and Roanoke (13-12). Tufts was 8-1 during the NESCAC regular season.

The Jumbos are in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the Tufts-Endicott game will travel to Pennsylvania to play Centennial Conference champion Gettysburg College on Saturday (May 12) in the second round. Twenty teams overall were selected. The Jumbos earned one of four Pool C berths, along with Cortland State, Ithaca and Wesleyan.

Besides one bad loss at Williams on April 16, the Jumbos have been very consistent. They have a 9-7 loss to #3 in the nation Western New England, and an 8-7 NESCAC Tournament semi-final loss to a Middlebury team that put it all together at the right time to win the conference title. Tufts showed a knack for winning tight games, posting a 10-2 record in contests decided by three or fewer goals.

"The key to winning these games has been our offensive balance and a stingy defense," senior tri-captain Mark Warner (Wading River, NY) said. "Our team has a lot of offensive threats so that our opponents can not just guard against one person. Also, our defense buckles down and plays their best when a game gets tight. In many cases they give our offense chances to win."

The Jumbos are led on offense by leading goal-scorer Clem McNally (Farhills, NJ), a sophomore with 36 goals. That's the most by a Tufts player in three seasons. McNally's main provider is Warner, who is closing in on the team's all-time assists record. He has 27 this year and 93 for his career. Other key offensive contributors are senior Chris Connelly (Wilton, CT) with 18 goals and 12 assists, junior Connor Ginsberg (New Haven, CT) with 13 goals and nine assists and sophomore Chase Bibby (Marblehead, MA) with 12 goals and five assists. Bibby scored the overtime goal that gave Tufts a 7-6 win against Middlebury on April 28, lifting the Jumbos to the NESCAC regular-season title.

On defense, the team is experienced. Goalkeeper Matt Harrigan (Darnestown, MD) has played every minute for the Jumbos since arriving on campus last year. He brings a 7.87 goals against average and .616 save percentage into Wednesday's game. Defenders Wiley Dornseif (Littleton, CO) and Alex Bezdek (Duxbury, MA) have been starters since their sophomore season. The Jumbos have been effective in man-up situations on both sides of the ball. They convert at 35.3 percent (18/51) and allow just 18.6 percent (11/59). Sophomore

Tufts played Endicott earlier this season on April 11 and won 12-10. Endicott enters Wednesday night's NCAA first round match-up having won 14 of their last 15 games. The Gulls received the automatic qualifier after winning the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship over Gordon College, 17-3 on Saturday. The Blue and Green posted yet another undefeated regular season conference record as the Gulls have now won 40-straight Commonwealth Coast Conference games, a record that dates back five years. The Gulls fly into their May 9th match-up with an overall mark of 15-2.

2007 NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament Bracket

Watch the NCAA Division III Men's Lacrosse Tournament Selection Show on CSTV