Griffin and his coach earn season-end lacrosse awardsA long climb back to respectability for the Tufts men's lacrosse program culminated with the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (NEILA) announcing its Division III All Stars and major awards. Tufts earned two of the three annual awards as sophomore Bryan Griffin was named New England Division III Player of the Year and fifth-year Head Coach Mike Daly was voted Coach of the Year.
A First and Second Team, along with an Honorable Mention list, also were announced by NEILA. Griffin was also named to the First Team attack. Sophomore attack David Taylor and sophomore goalkeeper Luke Chicco were Honorable Mention recipients.
The 2003 Jumbos finished with 12 wins and five losses to set a new team record for victories. Tufts finished second during the competitive New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) regular season, earning the #2 seed in the conference tournament. They advanced to the conference championship game, which they lost to three-time defending champion Middlebury College, 15-10. The program had worked its way into the national top 20 rankings by the end of the year.
Griffin was the NESCAC Player of the Year after leading the conference in scoring with 3.76 points per game. He tied the team's single-season scoring record with 64 points (41 goals, 23 assists), including 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points in nine conference games. In the NESCAC quarterfinals on April 27, he scored the game-winning goal in the final minute against Bowdoin College to win the first home playoff game at Tufts in eight years. He then led Tufts with four goals and an assist in an 8-7 NESCAC semi-final round win over Wesleyan University on May 3. Griffin was the New England Rookie of the Year and an Honorable Mention pick as a freshman in 2002.
Daly, who graduated from Tufts in 1995, was rewarded for the team's success this season, but also for the progress he's made with the program since taking over as head coach in 1999. The Jumbos had won three games total in the previous two seasons (1-13 in 1997, 2-12 in 1998). Over the next four years, Daly and his staff reconstructed the program. Small steps such as an ECAC post-season berth in 2000 and wins over favored NESCAC opponents in 2001 and 2002 led to this year's accomplishments.
Ironically, Daly played football and baseball during his undergraduate years at Tufts. His loyalty and diligence as an athlete and as a graduate assistant coach at Tufts helped earn him the opportunity to become the head coach in a sport he did not play.
Taylor, a transfer from North Carolina by way of Fudan University in China, played for the first time in three years. He scored 50 points on 28 goals and 22 assists in 16 games. He was picked as All-NESCAC Second Team after scoring 16 goals in eight conference games. Chicco emerged out of a three-man competition to win the starting role in goal. He won 10 games, was NESCAC's Co-Player of the Week on March 31 and finished with an 8.81 goals against average and 63.3 save percentage.