D3 Men’s Lacrosse National Championship Preview
This weekend proves to be an epic matchup of two D3 Lacrosse titans in Salisbury and Tufts. These programs have met five times in their history, with all five coming in the NCAA D3 Men’s Lacrosse Tournament and four out of the five coming in the NCAA Championship. Last year’s win for the Jumbos gave them a slight edge in the series and has Salisbury out for revenge in this year’s matchup. Tufts will look to win its fourth national championship as a program and finish the season a perfect 23-0 when they take on No.2 Salisbury University in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. Tufts arrived at this point by dispatching the two-time defending national champion RIT Tigers 15-11. Salisbury defeated Christopher Newport in the other NCAA D3 Lacrosse Final Four matchup. This is the Jumbos’ first trip to the NCAA National Championship game since 2016, when they lost to Salisbury 14-13 at Lincoln Financial Field. Tufts is 3-2 all-time in national championship games, with the wins coming in 2010, 2014, and 2015.
The strength in Tufts’s offense has to be with their attack, as they have two 100-point scorers and a third with 93 points. Jack Boyden and Kurt Bruun lead the way for the Jumbos offensively and look to add to their 100-point seasons. Tommy Swank is pretty close behind with 93 points; all three put pressure on the team’s long poles. They are each All-Americans and are dominant offensive players that have given teams fits all season. They can flat-out play, and it will come down to whether or not Salisbury’s close defense can stop them. In the midfield, the Jumbos are solid but feature some young players that have withstood the big stage so far. Charlie Tagliaferri and Jack Regenry are two players that can play a massive role in the Jumbo’s success on Sunday. Tufts has the No.1 scoring offense averaging 21 goals per game, and they are second in groundballs per game with 47 a game. Can the Seagulls stop the Jumbos? We’ll find out Sunday.
Record breaker and future Chrome player Cross Ferrara handles the bulk of the load for Salisbury. He’s athletic and can attack from anywhere. The 2023 CLC Player of the Year and member of the All-CLC First Team, Ferrara enters the title game with 118 points on 85 goals and 33 assists. He has sat at the table with the all-time greats at Salisbury but is missing the elusive national championship ring. Jude Brown has also been an absolute monster for the Seagulls, with 101 points on 36 goals and 65 assists. Having to stop two 100-point scorers is hard enough, but once you add in the balance in scoring from the rest of the attack and midfield, the task seems incredibly daunting. The three-headed monster of 60-point scorers of Jack Dowd, Brice Bromwell, and Luke Nestor will be the difference makers for the Seagulls if they plan to hoist the trophy. Isaac Thrasher could be the X-factor in this one. Often overlooked as a third attackman, if he can chip in critical spots, he can be someone that puts the Seagulls over the top.
This game will come down to who can win in the middle of the field and the goal. These teams are evenly matched across the board, and it will come down to possessions, controlling transition, and solid riding and clearing. Expect to see the Jumbos throw ten-man looks at the Seagulls to disrupt their flow in the clear. Both teams love to run, so this one should be an absolute shootout. While both teams have played big games before, this environment is unlike any other, so whichever team can handle the big stage the best has a chance at jumping out in front early.
In a game where both teams like to run, it will come down to the more disciplined team on offense and in the clear. Tufts wants to run and gun but averages just under 19 turnovers a game. Conversely, the Seagulls are averaging just over 15 turnovers per game. In a game where both teams can score at a high clip, every possession counts, so watch this as the game progresses.
Casey D’Annolfo has been chasing his first national title as the Head Coach at Tufts since he got there, and this year is as good a chance as any for the Jumbos to do it. Conversely, this has been Salisbury’s longest stretch without a national title since their first in 1994, so the Seagulls will be excited to help Jim Berkman add lucky number 13 to the shelf. If history tells us anything, this game has the makings to be an all-time classic for lacrosse fans everywhere.