Men's Lax Previews From Daily Collegian - UMass Athletics

Men's Lax Previews From Daily Collegian

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On Saturday at Al-Marzook Field in West Hartford, Conn., there will be two undefeated records on the line when the No. 16 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team takes on Hartford.

The Minutemen enter into this weekend's affair with two undefeated records in their hands, the first being their season record of 1-0, which featured an 8-5 win against No. 12 Army, and the other being an 8-0 undefeated streak against the Hawks.

Check out the stories from the Daily Collegian:

• Minutemen go for 2nd straight win

• Defensive unit on display for UMass

Minutemen go for 2nd straight win

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

On Saturday at Al-Marzook Field in West Hartford, Conn., there will be two undefeated records on the line when the No. 16 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team takes on Hartford.

The Minutemen enter into this weekend's affair with two undefeated records in their hands, the first being their season record of 1-0, which featured an 8-5 win against No. 12 Army, and the other being an 8-0 undefeated streak against the Hawks.

Traditionally, Hartford isn't a strong team, but it has been making the climb in recent seasons as it was ranked third in a tough America East division, which includes top 10 teams Stony Brook and last season's AE champ, Albany.

However, UMass coach Greg Cannella isn't focused on how the Hawks are ranked, instead concerning himself with the mindset of his players.

"We don't ever talk about the rankings because in the way the landscape of how college lacrosse is now ... it doesn't matter," Cannella said. "If you're not ready to play, you're going to lose. The theme is we better be ready to play."

With an 8-0 record against the Hawks, including last season's 20-10 victory, Hartford won't be looking to take it easy against the Maroon and White, especially after having its most successful season since 2003 with an AE Tournament appearance.

"They'll want revenge, they've got a lot going for them," Cannella said.

In the Minutemen's season opener against the Black Knights (0-1), UMass scored eight goals, which doesn't sit right with Cannella.

"We want to score 50 goals if we can," Cannella said. "I think in college lacrosse if you're going to be successful day in and day out, [you have to] score in the double-digits."

Offensively, the Minutemen will rely on the same producers as the season opener. Attacker Will Manny will look to build off his goal and pair of assists from last game by continuing to pressure with fellow offensive players including juniors Art Kell, Anthony Biscardi and sophomore Colin Fleming.

"I talked to the offensive guys about the five P's: proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance and that's what we're certainly looking at right now," Cannella said.

UMass has had a week to prepare for Saturday's affair, which will pit them against a Hawks team that boasts Tim Fallon, a second team preseason All-American who is not only a tough face-off player, but also athletic enough to spread the midfield.

"Fallon is a guy that can win it to himself; he's athletic up the field," Cannella said. "Guys like that, you try to minimize their damage [and] what they can do to you the best you can."

Along with Fallon, UMass has its eyes on four of last season's top five scorers in the AE conference, including junior Aidan Genik, who tallied 36 goals.

Hartford's goalkeeper, Scott Bement, who earned second team all-league honors last season, will be in the cage on Saturday and will be a tough force for the Minutemen to overcome.

Another challenge for UMass will be competing away from home, where it has spent a majority of its time this season. Other than a scrimmage at St. John's, UMass has stayed at Garber Field through attrocious weather and its first win.

"The stadium's a different feel than Garber," Cannella said. "There's a certain comfort level for us most definitely at Garber Field and that's a big challenge for this weekend."

The Minutemen will begin their head-to-head battle with Hartford at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Following the game against the Hawks, UMass will be back at Garber Field for its next two games against Ohio State and No. 20 Brown.


Defensive unit on display for UMass

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

After holding a potent Army attack to five goals on Saturday, the Massachusetts men's lacrosse team can only hope to demonstrate that same effort and intensity this Saturday at Hartford.

"You hope that you can bring the same type of intensity everyday," UMass coach Greg Cannella said about his team's physicality in the defensive zone.

The UMass defensive unit helped propel the Minutemen to an 8-5 victory over No. 12 Army, keeping offensive studs Jeremy Boltus and Garrett Thul in check, as the duo was limited to three goals and one assist.

Tom Celentani and Jake Smith were chosen as the co-UMass Athletes of the Week for their performances on Saturday. The pair highlighted the Minutemen defense in the effort.

"Tommy brings not only a physical presence to the game, but also a leadership presence," Cannella said. "[Goalie Tim McCormack] is really the leader on that side, but Tommy directs a lot of traffic and has been a super leader for us."

Smith has capitalized on his opportunities during the fall and preseason after seeing limited playing time during his rookie season. The Medfield, Mass. native appeared in only six games, but now finds himself in a starting role.

Cannella does not get caught up in the individual accolades, however, and his team reflects that mentality as well.

"The Athlete of the Week should be the UMass defense and that's how we look at things and those guys will be the first [ones] to tell you that," Cannella said.

The Maroon and White withstood a pair of Army extra-man opportunities by not surrendering a goal. The defense was particularly effective clearing the ball out of the zone, going 21-for-24 on the afternoon.

UM cannot afford to be content with last week's victory, as the Minutemen travel to Connecticut to face Hartford this weekend. Cannella expects his defense to continue to bring physicality, intensity and unity to each game.

"It's a difficult thing, especially when you face a team like Hartford with a lot of firepower. It's hard to stop six guys at once."

McCormack was stellar between the pipes last time out, surrendering only five goals on 22 shots while making nine saves in the process. The captain appeared to pick up right where he left off a year ago, building off the experience he gained from his first full season as the starting goalkeeper.

The UMass defense can be sure to expect an aggressive opponent on Saturday, as the Minutemen embarrassed the Hawks last year, 20-10, on Feb. 20 at Garber Field.


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