No. 9 UMass hosts Brown on Saturday at Garber Field
The No. 9 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team continues its successful start to the season with Brown on Saturday afternoon at Garber Field.
The Minutemen (3-0) don't look to dwell on last Saturday's impressive 11-9 handling of No. 14 Ohio State, as the Bears (1-0) will give them all they can handle.
"They play with a hunger," said UMass coach Greg Cannella. "They're athletic so they ... allow their athletes to use their athleticism out there on the field. It's really a great way to play. We try to do the same thing here."
Brown had no problem defeating Quinnipiac in its first game of the 2011 season, cruising to a 14-3 decision. The Bears jumped out to a 6-0 lead and never looked back.
Brown's size, craftiness and athleticism on the offensive end make them a tough unit to contain. Senior Andrew Feinberg and junior Parker Brown are the top two scorers for the Bears, as each netted four goals last Saturday.
Feinberg cashed in on four scores against UMass in last year's matchup, which indicated to Cannella that the senior "can score with anybody in the country."
Brown is coming off his seven-point performance against Quinnipiac, which earned him the Ivy League Player of the Week award.
The Minutemen look for another solid performance from goalkeeper Tim McCormack, along with the defensive unit of Jake Smith, Tom Celentani and company, to contain the aggressive Brown attack.
Last weekend's win over OSU propelled UMass to its highest ranking since its No. 7 ranking last season on April 5. Cannella hopes the Minutemen's recent victory will pay dividends for his team moving forward.
"Anytime you play a top-notch opponent and not only are you able to compete with them but compete at a high level, you gain some confidence," said Cannella.
The turnovers were a concern for Cannella last weekend, as the Maroon and White committed 16 on the afternoon.
"You just [got to] ask your guys to have a greater sense of urgency on each play," said Cannella. "In practice, you can turn the ball over and [there are] no consequences. In a game, [there are] ... great consequences and against a team like Brown, they'll put it to us if we turn it over that many times."
The Minutemen attack will be firing on Brown goalkeeper Matt Chriss, who ranked third in the Ivy League last season with 10.30 saves per contest, including a season-high 15 against high-powered No. 19 Duke. The Lutherville, Md. native accumulated 14 saves against QU last Saturday in his first outing of the season.
Chriss has the luxury of being coached by former Virginia goalkeeper, Kip Turner, who has solidified his game and made him a more consistent player.
Anchoring the defensive squad will be Peter Fallon who led the Bears with 36 groundballs a year ago and received second-team All-Ivy League honors.
UMass will try to continue to maintain a balanced attack against Brown, which it showcased against OSU last weekend with Anthony Biscardi, Colin Fleming, Art Kell and Connor Mooney each scoring a pair.
"Hopefully we continue to have that kind of contribution from those guys and even a couple more guys that can help us," said Cannella.
The two teams met last season on March 23, with the Minutemen emerging victorious, 11-10. Kell, Biscardi and then-freshman standout Will Manny each scored a pair of goals for the Maroon and White, while McCormack tallied a career-high 17 saves.
With a slew of quality opponents this early in the season, Cannella has noticed an increased tempo from his team during the week of preparation.
"There's a sense of urgency in practice and a sense that you have to be ready or else you [will] get stomped on," said Cannella.
Saturday will mark the Minutemen's third home game of the season and is set to begin at 1 p.m.
Offense strengthens Minutemen season as Brown approaches
The No. 9 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team is off to a fast start thanks in large part to its aggressiveness and execution on the offensive end.
The Minutemen (3-0) have scored an average of 11 goals per game against stout defensive opponents in Army, Hartford and Ohio State by showcasing balance in the offensive zone, displaying quick and precise ball movement, creating extra possessions and outshooting the opposition.
With a number of scoring threats on the roster, UMass coach Greg Cannella believes his team's balance and unselfishness has paid dividends thus far. "I think it takes pressure off individuals and allows [the players] to let the game come to them a little bit more," said Cannella.
Eleven players have scored for the Minutemen this season, with Will Manny (six goals), Art Kell (five goals), Anthony Biscardi (five goals), Colin Fleming (five goals) and Ryan Hantverk (four goals) leading the way in terms of finding the back of the net.
Cannella said having multiple scoring options gives his team an advantage over other teams that may rely on a single scoring threat.
"Some games, [if] it's not going your way, you don't have to force it," said Cannella. "You can defer [to your teammates]."
UMass has featured ball movement that includes working the ball around the perimeter of the defense and feeding to teammates streaking towards the net. Cannella said his team's chemistry has resulted in great execution of their offensive system.
"We're more of a motion team, but I think it reflects the guys we have now and their understanding of each other," said Cannella. "They're getting used to each other. I think they feel a little more comfortable within our sets to be able to ... feel that they can go out and make plays."
The return of junior Art Kell has been a major lift for UMass, with a team-high 12 points, including seven assists. Kell broke his foot last year and had to miss the final six games of the season and now plays a key role in setting up the offensive sets and dictating when to attack the net.
Another strength that's emerged for the Minutemen has been handling groundballs. UMass has scooped up a total of 95 in their first three games compared to its opponents' 76.
"Groundballs are a key to any game," Cannella said. "[If] you win the groundball war ... you're [going to] be in the game."
Junior Greg Rushing has provided a high contribution in ground balls (team-high 24) which has created extra scoring opportunities for the Maroon and White.
"Every time you come up with them, it's an extra possession for your team," said Cannella. "The more possessions that any team has, the better off they're [going to] be ... moving forward."
UMass dominated the groundball battle last weekend against OSU, 31-24, limiting the Buckeyes' chances of mounting a comeback. Rushing accumulated 11 of his own and played particularly well late in the game to clinch the victory.
With those extra possessions, the Minutemen have created more scoring chances and have been able to dictate the pace of the game. UM has averaged an impressive 41.3 shots per contest, outshooting the opposition, 124-76.
"We [want to] try to take a lot of shots," said Cannella. "[I'd] like our shooting percentage to increase, obviously, but [with] the way we play, we're [going to] generate shots and we're [going to] try to take a lot of shots ... from a lot of different people."
UMass has generated 65 shots on goal (52.4 percent) so far this season.
UMass' offensive surge has come despite facing quality goalkeepers in its first three contests. Army's Tom Palesky was a preseason All-American honorable mention, Hartford's Scott Bement was named to the America East All-Conference Second Team last season and Ohio State's freshman Greg Dutton was a high-school All-American last year.