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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


New England 2010 Player of the Year D.J. Hessler

MEDFORD -- Tufts University Men's Lacrosse, the top team in New England Division III, has three players on the 2010 New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) Division III All-New England Teams. Junior D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) was voted Player of the Year in the region.

Hessler, junior midfielder Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY), and senior defenseman Eytan Saperstein (Hewlett, NY) are all on the New England Division III First Team. Tufts was one of just two teams in New England with three players chosen for the First Team.

Hessler leads the New England Small College Athletic Conference - the best league in New England - in scoring with 30 goals and 42 assists for 72 points in 17 games. He has 19 points more than the next highest scorer, which happens to be junior teammate Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) with 53 points (33 goals, 20 assists). Hessler's 42 assists also put him far ahead of the league's next best, which is Wesleyan's Jon Killeen with 26. Tufts' 217 goals this season are 53 more than anyone else in NESCAC, with Hessler as the centerpiece of the offense. He set a NESCAC Championship record with six assists against Williams in the quarterfinal on May 2.

Witko is the top goal-scoring midfielder in NESCAC through May 10 with 33 tallies. His four goals led the Jumbos when they captured their first NESCAC title with a 13-12 victory over Middlebury College on Sunday (May 9). Tied for 10th overall in the NESCAC scoring race with 40 points, Witko also had four-goal games against Williams on March 27 and Bates on April 6. His 112 shots lead Tufts, and he's scored three man-up goals.

Saperstein sets the tone defensively for Tufts. He's fourth in the league with 79 ground balls (4.65 per game), behind only three face-off men. He scooped up a season-high 10 during an April 10 victory against Trinity. Three other times he had seven or more, including eight in the conference championship game against Middlebury College. Behind his defensive leadership, the Jumbos lead the league with 668 ground balls.

All three players repeated as All-New England honorees. Hessler was a First Teamer, while Witko and Saperstein were Second Teamers for 2009. Hessler is the fourth Jumbo to win New England Player of the Year accolades in the past eight seasons. Bryan Griffin was honored in 2003 and 2004, and Devin Clarke was the 2005 selection.

Tufts, at 16-1, is ranked #1 in the final NEILA poll of the season. The Jumbos, who set a school-record for victories, are the second seed in the North bracket of the 2010 NCAA Championship. They earned a first-round bye and will host a second-round game on Saturday at 2 pm against either Montclair State or Endicott.

2010 NEILA All-New England Release