What a difference a year made for Dan Alles.
After missing all of the 2013 men’s lacrosse season due to a shoulder injury that brought two rounds of surgery, the Tufts University defender played a key role in the Jumbos’ winning their second NCAA Division III title in five years.
Sixth-ranked Tufts outlasted No. 2 Salisbury, 12-9, in the championship game on May 25 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Cole Bailey was named the Most Outstanding Player after scoring once and assisting on five goals. Goalie Patton Watkins made 17 saves, including eight in the third quarter when the Jumbos outscored the Sea Gulls by a 7-1 margin.
“It was a pretty cool way to go out,” said Alles, a 2010 South Side High School graduate who led the Tufts defense along with Cem Kalkavan, Garrett Read and Blake Wood. “We came full circle. We took the same road to the championship game as we did three years ago and got redemption,” Alles added.
Finishing 21-2, Tufts set a program record for wins in a single season. The team also set a Division III mark for goals in a season with 423. Chris Schoenhut, a 2011 graduate of Chaminade High School, netted a nation-leading 80 of them. He missed the championship game after suffering a neck injury in the semifinal win over RIT.
“Our offense made most of the headlines, but we had a great defense and goalie,” Tufts head coach Mike Daly said. “Our defense just kept grinding. We put a ton of pressure on those guys with the run-and-gun style we play.”
Alles, a contributing freshman when Tufts was beaten by Salisbury in the 2011 final, said he couldn’t have hoped for a better way to finish his collegiate career. The Jumbos killed four of five man-down situations in the championship game. “We said we hate losing more than we like winning,” said Alles, who graduated in May with an engineering degree. “It was a huge weight off our shoulders.”
Daly said Alles got off to a great start this season and overcame a broken hand along the way. “The fact Dan was elected a captain after missing last season speaks to his leadership qualities,” Daly said. “He’s a high-energy player who brings excitement and a great work ethic to the team. That’s what we missed the most last year.”