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NCAA Championship Final
Tufts 9, Salisbury 6

At Baltimore, MD
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Game Box Score

NCAA Championship Game Most Outstanding Player D.J. Hessler

BALTIMORE -- The 2010 Tufts University men's lacrosse team won the first-ever NCAA team title in University history with a 9-6 victory over Salisbury University on Sunday afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium. The Jumbos (20-1), who had never previously advanced past the NCAA Championship second round, opened up a 7-1 lead and went on to defeat a Salisbury squad (21-2) that has won eight NCAA Championships.

Tufts junior D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD) was named the Most Outstanding Player of the game, leading the Jumbo offense with a goal and four assists. The Tufts defense held Salisbury to just six goals, matching the Gulls' season-low. Tufts sophomore goalie Steven Foglietta (Oceanside, NY) made 13 saves in the game, including seven in the fourth quarter to bring home the title.

"It was an outstanding effort on (Tufts') part today," Salisbury coach Jim Berkman said. "A lot of things that we didn't do well weren't a result of us not doing them well, it was because of their efforts and the things that they did that we couldn't capitalize. Coach Daly did a great job with that team. They had a great run at the end of the season and our hats are off to them as the 2010 national champions."

Getting off to a good start was one of the keys to the game for the Jumbos, and they accomplished that in a major way. Tufts led 6-1 at the end of the first quarter and 7-1 halfway into the second period. They scored the game's first goal when senior tri-captain Doug DiSesa (Wynnewood, PA) collected a ground ball and scored unassisted at 13:30 of the first quarter. Salisbury tied the game at 1-1 on Shawn Zordani's goal at 11:31 of the first quarter, but the Jumbos would score the next five goals in the period. The six goals were the most Salisbury had allowed in a first quarter all year. Sophomore Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA) won seven of eight face-offs in the quarter to spark the Jumbos.

Tufts took a 2-1 lead when Hessler came out from behind the goal and scored unassisted at 10:36 of the first. After another Rhoads face-off win, Jumbo junior Matt Witko (Chappaqua, NY) scored unassisted for a 3-1 Tufts advantage at 9:45. The Jumbos faced the first of three man-down situations in the middle of the first and killed off the Salisbury man-advantage. Foglietta made a save during the man-down and senior tri-captain Mike Droesch (Setauket, NY) grabbed the ground ball and cleared it for Tufts. That soon led to Hessler assisting junior Ryan Molloy (Setauket, NY) for a 4-1 Tufts lead at 6:01 of the first quarter.

Salisbury had some offensive momentum over the next few minutes, but a take-away by Tufts senior defenseman Eytan Saperstein (Hewlett, NY) led to the fifth Tufts goal. That was scored by DiSesa, his second of the game, assisted by Hessler at the 1:33 mark. Rhoads then won the face-off and senior midfielder Jamie Atkins (Concord, MA) came out from behind the net and scored unassisted  with 31 seconds on the clock for a 6-1 Jumbo lead. The five-goal margin at the time was the largest that the Sea Gulls had faced all season.

"Our strong start took a lot of pressure off our guys," Tufts coach Mike Daly said. "We were at Cortland last weekend in a great environment against a great team and we didn't respond to well to that early part of the game and it really put a lot of pressure on or team to battle back like we did. We are a team of runs, defensively as well as offensively, unfortunately sometimes. But we just got into one of those grooves early on and it really helped get our bench into it, get our fans into it and keep everything going in the right direction."

Maintaining their advantage early in the second, Atkins scored his second of the game from Hessler at 8:07 for the 7-1 advantage that gave the Jumbos a six-goal run. However, the momentum shifted towards Salisbury for the remainder of the second quarter. Senior Mike Winter scored his 53rd goal of the season at 5:47 to close the gap to 7-2. That initiated a three-goal run by the Sea Gulls over 2:41 of play. The tally also ended a scoring drought of 20:44 that had been the longest of the season for Salisbury. Long stick Connor Burgasser scored at 4:53 for Salisbury, just 54 seconds later. After a failed clear by the Jumbos, senior Will Poletis scored unassisted at 3:06 to cut the margin to 7-4. That was the Jumbo lead at halftime.

Shots were 25-21 in favor of Tufts at halftime, including 13-8 on goal. Foglietta had four saves for Tufts after 30 minutes, while Salisbury junior Johnny Rodriguez made six. Rhoads was nine for 12 on face-offs to set the tone.

In the second half, Sea Gulls senior Jake DeLillo narrowed the margin to just 7-5 with his goal at 11:57 of the third. The goal was the fourth straight for Salisbury. They kept up the pressure, with Tufts' Foglietta needing to make a point-blank save at the right post a little more than a minute later. Tufts failed to clear the ball however, and a Salisbury shot soon clanked off the crossbar. The Jumbos stemmed the momentum with a huge goal, as sophomore Sean Kirwan (Boonton Township, NJ) scooped up a ground ball and scored at 4:29 of the third for an 8-5 Tufts lead. Salisbury had advantages of 9-5 in shots, 16-7 in ground balls and 3-0 on face-offs for the third, but on the scoreboard it was 1-1 for the quarter and the Jumbos took an 8-5 lead into the fourth.

Tufts scored the crucial next goal, going ahead 9-5 at 10:48 of the fourth on a back-of-the-net pass from Hessler to Atkins, who matched a career-high with his third goal of the game. Meanwhile, Foglietta and the Tufts defense held Salisbury to another long scoring drought as the game clock wound down under five minutes. Poletis scored his second of the game at 2:58 of the fourth quarter, ending 23:59 of scoreless play for the Sea Gulls, and keeping Salisbury alive down 9-6. The Gulls won the ensuing face-off and had two shots that were wide before Tufts sophomore long-stick Alec Bialosky (Moreland Hills, OH) caused a turnover. The Jumbos were able to kill the clock for most of the remainder of the game and soon charged the field to celebrate the University's first-ever NCAA title.

With five points on a goal and four assists in the game, Hessler broke his own single-season scoring record at Tufts with 91 points (37g, 54a). In addition to Atkins' three goals, the Jumbos also got a pair from DiSesa. Rhoads finished 10 for 18 on face-offs, while Saperstein collected four ground balls and caused four turnovers. Senior Darius Bittle-Dockery (New Haven, CT) also scooped up four ground balls. Bialosky finished with three ground balls and two caused turnovers.

"It's pretty awesome to be a part of history and Tufts' first NCAA (team) title," Hessler said. "It puts us on the map and shows that people need to respect us."

Salisbury had three multiple-point scorers led by Poletis' two goals, while DeLillo and Burgasser each had a goal and an assist. Burgasser's six ground balls led the Sea Gulls, while DeLillo had five, and Matt Cannone and Evan Hockel each finished with four. Rodriguez made 11 saves in the game.

"DJ and some of those goal scorers get a lot of attention and they probably deserve it, but we have six seniors back there playing defense for us," Daly said. "Eytan Saperstein, Darius Bittle-Dockery, Evan Crosby (Yarmouthport, MA), and then our three short-stick defensive middies - Mike Droesch (Setauket, NY), Doug DiSesa and Zach Groen (New Haven, CT). We put so much pressure on them playing the offensive style that we do. We really focus on attacking on offense and trying to score goals and sometimes it puts a lot of pressure on them. For them [our defense] to hold that team to six goals today, I think that's the reason right there."

Tufts' long-stick midfielders Bialosky and freshman Sam Gardner (Chelmsford, MA) also were a key defensively, combining to limit Sam Bradman, Salisbury's leading scorer and the Division III Midfielder of the Year, to one assist.

The Jumbos, almost 500 miles from home, were supported by a sea of light blue behind their bench as a major Tufts contingent was a part of the crowd of 20,734 that was the largest the Jumbos has ever played before. Many of them were team alumni whom Coach Daly made sure to thank in the post-game press conference.

"Certainly this group of 47 guys are holding that trophy today, but the guys in (my) first year who were there, who started to buy in, earned this as much as everybody right on through the years and those alumni have been with us every step of the way," Daly said. "Those guys have helped us with everything we ever needed. It is theirs as much as it is ours. It's a pretty good tribute to all of those alums who certainly might not have experienced it like we did, but they were in our thoughts the entire game."

2010 NCAA Division III Champions - Tufts University Jumbos
(Photo by Doug Kapustin)