At his postgame press conference, Tufts Head Coach Mike Daly used the word tough a lot to describe his program. Work ethic and toughness were two of the building blocks that past Jumbos used to build the program that it currently is today. His team needed some of that toughness today against Lynchburg.
To begin the game, the Hornets scored the game’s first four goals and took the game’s first fourteen shots to gain momentum early against the defending champion Jumbos. But Daly did not use a timeout during that entire run.
Daly wanted to save a timeout for other parts of the game, such as saving a possession on offense or giving the defense some added protection. And with some experience from last year’s win against Salisbury in the Championship game, Conor Helfrich, Cole Bailey, and John Uppgren did not panic.
“My mindset was to win the next face-off, and good things would happen,” said Helfrich. The junior went 23-for-31 on the draw and was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
Helfrich won the next face-off after Lynchburg’s fourth goal. And good things did happen for Tufts.
In fact, the Jumbos closed out the opening quarter with the game’s next five goals and the next twelve shots, including two goals from Uppgren, and never looked back afterward.
Austin Stewart scored to tie the game at five, which set the Division III record for goals in a season. He scored another in the fourth quarter to finish with 109 goals for his junior campaign.
Tufts outscored Lynchburg 11-4 in the second and third quarters, and also had a 16-3 run from the first quarter until the end of the third. First team All-American Junior John Uppgren finished the game with four goals on 13 shots and four assists, while third team All-American senior Cole Bailey ended his final game with a hat trick on eight shots and four assists. All-American Honorable Mention junior Alex Salazar finished with thirteen saves.
Even with losing some players and coaches in the offseason, most notably new Brown offensive coordinator Sean Kirwan, Daly’s goal was to maximize his players’ potential on his tough, resilient players. And walking out at the end of his press conference, Daly shed his toughness to hug his wife and walk with his two children, both of whom stood next to their proud dad as he answered questions.