Previews Of UMass' CAA Semifinal At Penn State - UMass Athletics

Previews Of UMass' CAA Semifinal At Penn State

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The Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of the UMass-Penn State CAA Semifinal: UMass men's lacrosse gets shot at NCAA tournament.

If the University of Massachusetts men's lacrosse team were still in the ECAC, its season probably would be over.

The Minutemen had a solid 2011 season at 9-4, but their resume likely falls a little short of NCAA tournament at-large bid status without enough signature wins. The ECAC has no conference tournament and the Minutemen would have been stuck waiting for next year.

But now, as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, hope is still very much alive as the No. 3-seed Minutemen (9-4) play No. 2 Penn State (7-6) tonight at 7 in the semifinal round of the CAA tournament at State College.

The Daily Collegian has this preview: UMass, PSU meet again for CAA Semifinals

For the No. 15 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team, Wednesday night's game has a simple motivation: win or go home.

The Minutemen (9-4, 4-2 Colonial Athletic Association) travel to Penn State for a rematch with the Nittany Lions in a CAA Semifinals matchup.

UMass coach Greg Cannella hopes his team does not change a thing despite the greater stakes.


UMass men's lacrosse gets shot at NCAA tournament

AMHERST - If the University of Massachusetts men's lacrosse team were still in the ECAC, its season probably would be over.

The Minutemen had a solid 2011 season at 9-4, but their resume likely falls a little short of NCAA tournament at-large bid status without enough signature wins. The ECAC has no conference tournament and the Minutemen would have been stuck waiting for next year.

But now, as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, hope is still very much alive as the No. 3-seed Minutemen (9-4) play No. 2 Penn State (7-6) tonight at 7 in the semifinal round of the CAA tournament at State College.

UMass coach Greg Cannella thinks the addition of the four-team event is a positive part of joining the CAA.

"You have another shot at getting to the NCAA tournament," Cannella said. "It should help the RPIs of the teams involved because you're going to play a quality opponent, maybe two quality opponents."

The winner will face the winner of No. 1 Hofstra and No. 4 Delaware, Saturday at 7 p.m. at the home site of the highest remaining seed. The league champion gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

While the Minutemen were still in the running for the CAA's No. 1 seed less than two weeks ago, No. 3 might be a lucky spot if recent history is any indication. The No. 3 seed has won the conference tournament each of the last two seasons - Villanova in 2009 and Delaware last year.

After getting pounded by Hofstra, 14-5 on April 23, UMass earned the third spot with a bounce-back 11-5 win over Delaware on Friday.

"We all knew that we just didn't show up in that Hofstra game. It was one of the worst games we've played. We didn't execute and didn't really do anything," said sophomore attack Will Manny. "We went from one of our worst games to one of our best games. It was a great night."

Cannella was pleased with his team's resilience.

"That was very encouraging. It was the first time all year that we've come out and played like that against a quality opponent," Cannella said. "We haven't been able to string something like that together and get that type of lead. ... We're trying to keep that positive feeling going. You also have to be leery of it too. If you go in floating and not focused, you're going to get stomped on."

Penn State beat the Minutemen 8-7 in the teams' earlier meeting this year in Amherst behind a brilliant effort by freshman goalie Austin Kaut. His 25 saves were the most by any Division I goalie in a game this season.

"He's a great goalie and had a great game against us last time. We've been working on shooting to where the goalie is not going to be," Manny said. "As long as we shoot better, we should come out with the win. I'm pretty sure he's not going to make 25 saves on us again."

Cannella thinks having more available tape on Kaut as well as a previous meeting will help UMass be better prepared to face him this time.

"Hopefully, we'll have a better scout on what he does well and maybe what he doesn't do well," Cannella said.


UMass, PSU meet again for CAA Semifinals

For the No. 15 Massachusetts men's lacrosse team, Wednesday night's game has a simple motivation: win or go home.

The Minutemen (9-4, 4-2 Colonial Athletic Association) travel to Penn State for a rematch with the Nittany Lions in a CAA Semifinals matchup.

UMass coach Greg Cannella hopes his team does not change a thing despite the greater stakes.

"Just because the games have a little bit bigger statue, you can't really change the way you play," said Cannella. "It's the same thing whether you're playing the National Title game or you're playing a team that you're supposed to beat, you [have to] prepare the same way."

The teams met back on March 19 at Garber Field with PSU (7-6, 4-2 CAA) upsetting the Minutemen, 8-7, to hand the Maroon and White their only home loss of the season. Senior Ryan Hantverk had a chance to tie in the closing seconds of regulation, but his shot struck the post as UMass fell short in its bid for a comeback. PSU freshman goalkeeper Austin Kaut helped from the net by tallying 25 saves and has quickly emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the nation.

Despite its lack of scoring in the previous meeting, Cannella said his team won't change its attack.

"He had a great day," said Cannella. "He's been very consistent all year. This is a very good goalie. I don't think you attack [him] differently."

The first quarter will be huge for both teams but more importantly for the Minutemen. In the last matchup, the Minutemen dug themselves into a 3-0 deficit and were left playing from behind throughout the game.

Cannella places that blame on his shoulders as well as the rest of his coaching staff.

"It's our job as coaches to have our team ready to play and we didn't have them ready to play that day." said Cannella. "It's a 60-minute game. You can't play 50 minutes and expect to win."

The Nittany Lions have a dangerous duo in their attack in freshman Shane Sturgis and junior Matthew Mackrides. Sturgis leads the team in points (33) and assists (16), while Mackrides leads the team with 20 goals.

UMass' victory over Delaware on Friday helped erase the memory of its 14-5 loss to Hofstra. The Minutemen put together stout defense and efficient offense, especially in the third period when the Maroon and White posted six goals.

However Cannella knows his team can't dwell on the past.

"You hope that the guys can use Friday's game for some confidence but once the whistle starts, it's out the window," said Cannella. "It's Penn State against UMass. They want it as much as we want it.

UMass featured top ball movement and fluidity in the offensive zone on Friday as the team picked Delaware's zone defense apart. Freshman Connor Mooney earned his second CAA Rookie of the Week honors for his five-goal performance. Meanwhile, sophomore Will Manny dished out three assists and juniors Mike Fetterly and Art Kell each had a pair as well.

"You're able to move the ball and to be unselfish in those situations, but whether it's zone or man-to-man, you [want to] be able to ... have a bunch of assists," said Cannella.

The Minutemen will be prepared to see a similar defense from Penn State, as the Nittany Lions played zone in their first meeting. However Cannella feels his team needs to be ready for anything and will have to make adjustments and adapt during the game.

The opening faceoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Jeffrey Field with the winner earning a spot in the CAA Championship against either No. 7 Hofstra or Delaware on Saturday.


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