Josh Shapiro set his sights high when he took over the Tufts (Mass.) men’s soccer program four years ago, and already he has met his biggest goal.
Shapiro and the Jumbos defeated Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 on Saturday and hoisted the NCAA Division III national championship trophy at Swope Soccer Village. It was the program’s first title.
“I knew that we could be a team that would make deep runs in the NCAA Tournament,” Shapiro said. “I am so proud to see it come to fruition and they have really driven our program the last four years.”
It came as a bit of a surprise this year given that the Jumbos lost in the first round of their conference tournament. But they have been on fire since then, knocking off two-time defending champion Messiah College to advance to the semifinals and shutting out Ohio Wesleyan in reaching the final.
“We weren’t even sure we would get a bid,” sophomore midfielder Nathan Majumder said. “It’s been a magical run after that and I’m not even sure what’s going on right now.”
Tufts struck first with a goal from Peter Lee-Kramer, and Majumder pushed the lead to 2-0 before the break. Gus Santos added another after halftime and the Jumbos appeared to be cruising. But Wheaton’s Noah Anthony cut the lead to one with a pair of goals.
After one attempt sailed wide left, Majumder took it upon himself to regain the two-goal lead. He did so on an assist from Jason Kayne in the 82nd minute.
“I saw a window getting smaller and smaller as the goalie got there so I hit it hoping it would go,” Majumder said. “After I missed that other one, I knew I had to redeem myself and it’s definitely nice to do that.”
Santos was chosen most outstanding offensive player and goalkeeper Scott Greenwood took home most outstanding defensive player honors.
The loss dropped Wheaton to 22-4. It was the final game with coach Michael Giuliano at the helm.