GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Tufts University men's soccer team won its second straight NCAA championship and fourth in the last six years with a 2-0 victory over New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) rival Amherst College on Saturday night.
The Jumbos, who have won all four titles under head coach Josh Shapiro, become just the third program in NCAA Division III history to win four or more national championships. Tufts finished the 2019 season with a 20-2-2 record, two more victories than any team in program history.
Senior co-captain Gavin Tasker, named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the NCAA "Final Four," scored in the 25th minute to give Tufts a 1-0 lead. Junior Max Jacobs added an insurance tally in the 74th minute assisted by classmate Alex Ratzan, who had a goal and two assists in two games this weekend.
Junior Calvin Aroh, the Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the weekend, and sophomore goalie Erich Kindermann (six saves) led the defensive effort as Tufts did not allow a goal in the NCAA semifinal or final. The Jumbos are the only team who have won an NCAA Championship Game by shutout since 2009, which also includes Tufts' 1-0 overtime victory against Calvin in 2016.
Tufts added today's title to NCAA crowns won by the team in 2018, 2016 and 2014. This year's squad also won the NESCAC championship. Including their school-record victory total, by the numbers it's the most successful season in the Jumbo program's history.
The Jumbos had a great scoring chance seven minutes into the game when Tasker back-footed a pass to senior Joe Braun inside the top left of the box, but Amherst sophomore goalie Bernie White saved Braun's blast.
Tasker's goal in the 25th minute was started by senior back Drew Stern, who won a ball near the middle of the field. He passed to sophomore Zach Seigelstein, whose passing attempt was then blocked by an Amherst defender. The ball ricocheted back to Stern, who dribbled then made a pass to Tasker just outside the top left of the box. Tasker touched through a pair of Amherst defenders and scored on a shot that bounced in off the far post for a 1-0 Tufts lead.
Amherst's first shot on goal by senior Dane Lind didn't come until 9:35 remained in the first half, and Kindermann made the routine save. However, that began a strong finish to the first half by the Mammoths. Amherst sophomore German Giammattei, who entered the game with 26 goals this season, made his first attempt with a bicycle shot that went over the goal with three minutes remaining until halftime. Kindermann then had his best save of the half on Giammattei's blast from the right side, deflecting the ball over the cage with his hand.
The Jumbos' sophomore goalkeeper would make a similar save halfway into the second stanza. The ball bounced to wide-open Amherst junior Sebastian Derby in the right side of the box. Kindermann again made a hand save, sending the ball over the cross bar on a strong attempt with 27 minutes remaining. Another save by Kindermann came on a Mammoths' corner when he was perfectly positioned to grab a header by junior Kyle Kelly with 22 minutes left in regulation.
Tufts would take the 2-0 lead after junior Mati Cano ran down a ball on the left side of the field. The Jumbos circled it over to Ratzan on the right side. His service into the box was missed on a clear attempt by an Amherst defender. Jacobs had the ball bounce off his chest and then chased after it and poked it past a charging White with his right foot.
The Jumbos would create nearly a handful of good chances to extend the lead shortly after the goal. Senior Zach Lane beat a defender on the right side and had his shot slide just wide of the far post. Senior Brett Rojas and sophomore Aidan Welsh straight-on shots from outside the box that came close.
Amherst put the pressure on the in the final 10 minutes. The best chance was by freshman Ignacio Cubeddu from a tight angle on the left side that went just outside of the near post. Before long the Jumbos were charging the field to celebrate their fourth title.
The Mammoths finished with a 13-11 advantage in shots, though Tufts earned eight corners to four by Amherst. White made three stops in the Amherst goal. The physical contest saw 32 fouls, 19 on the Jumbos.
Tufts avenged a regular-season loss at Amherst 2-1 in overtime on October 12. The Mammoths, who were vying for their second national championship in program history, finished with a 19-2-2 record.
In addition to Tasker and Aroh, Braun, Lane and sophomore back Will Raphael were the Jumbos named to the All-Tournament team.
The NCAA championship is the 11th for Tufts since 2010. Men's soccer's four is the most at the school, followed by men's lacrosse and softball with three each and field hockey with one.
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