Tufts and Stevenson have split their past six meetings, with the Mustangs winning in 2012, 2014 and 2016. The Jumbos are 2-0 on the road this season, while Stevenson is 2-1 at home.
No. 2 Tufts (5-0), which claimed Division III championships in 2010, 2014 and 2015, moved up one spot in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association coaches poll after the Rochester Institute of Technology was upset, 10-9, in overtime by No. 9 Dickinson on Saturday.
Despite the graduation of USILA Co-Player of the Year John Uppgren (nation-leading 131 points on 73 goals and 58 assists) and fellow attackman Ben Andreycak (45 G, 47 A), the program still has the third-most prolific offense in the country. The unit is paced by sophomore attackman Danny Murphy (17 G, 6 A) and senior attackman Michael Mattson (15 G, 1 A).
No. 8 Stevenson (3-2), which won its only national title in 2013, dropped one spot in the poll after an 11-8 loss to No. 6 York on Saturday. Opponents have averaged 10.8 goals per game, and Ross Dinan appears to have established himself as the starting goalie. The senior has a 10.80 goals-against average and a .449 save percentage.
Here are a few factors that could play a role in the outcome at Mustang Stadium at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
1) Pace. Tufts thrived in previous years because it loved to pounce on turnovers and defensive stops to kick-start its transition game. That philosophy flowed from head coach Mike Daly and, since his departure for Brown, has been retained by Casey D’Annolfo. Stevenson coach Paul Cantabene said he and his staff will make their players fully aware of the Jumbos’ propensity to go up-tempo, but also won’t shy away from running when they have the advantage.
“They’re going to go up and down,” he said. “They’re going to play at a million miles per hour. So we’ve got to be ready for that and be able to handle that. … We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to take care of the ball, but we can’t be afraid to run against them as well. They’re going to give up some goals the other way when they 10-man [ride] and they try to make things happen and stuff. We’ve got to expose them on the other side.”
2) Turnovers. Tufts can and will push the pace if it can force turnovers. Stevenson has given the ball away 15.6 times per game thus far, but just 12.7 per game in its past three contests after 40 combined in its first two. Cantabene said the Mustangs must be careful when carrying the ball between the restraining lines.
“I think the biggest thing with them is not turning the ball over in the middle of the field and giving them opportunities to come back, transition-wise,” he said. “We’ve got to be strong there and not turn over the ball in the middle of the field. We’re not turning over the ball a whole lot. We’ve done a good job of not turning over the ball as much this year.”
3) Goalie. Tufts has started sophomore Ben Shmerler in all five games, and he has earned four of the team’s victories. Shmerler has posted an 8.80 goals-against average and a .645 save percentage, but junior Robert Treiber has played in the second half of each game and secured one win while recording a 10.88 goals-against average and a .559 save percentage. Cantabene said Stevenson’s offense must pressure Shmerler or Treiber.
“I think we’ve got to be able to do a good job and get to him and hopefully put a little doubt in him,” Cantabene said. “That’s what you want to do in every game, and hopefully, we can get to him. We’re shooting the ball OK, but I’d like to see us shoot a little bit better.”