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UMass men's lacrosse head coach Greg Cannella and senior midfielder Connor Mooney discuss the 16-11 win over Providence at Garber Field on Tuesday, March 11, 2014.
Recognized as one of the nation's top lacrosse coaches, Greg Cannella recently completed his 20th year at the helm of the University of Massachusetts program in 2014. Cannella has brought his Minutemen to eight NCAA Tournaments, won seven tournament games since 1997, claimed seven New England Championships, won five conference titles and guided the Minutemen to a No. 1 national ranking. Cannella was named the CAA Coach of the Year in 2012, his sixth conference coach of the year honor with the Minutemen. Cannella was also named the ECAC Coach of the Year on four occasions and the New England Coach of the Year five times. In 2006, he earned USILA National Coach of the Year after leading UMass to its first-ever lacrosse NCAA Championship Game appearance.
A 1988 UMass graduate, Cannella took the reigns of the UMass lacrosse program in the fall of 1994 with a great understanding of the program's storied history. He was a two-time letterwinner for legendary program leader Dick Garber in the mid-1980s and an assistant coach for two seasons with the Minutemen prior to taking over as the head coach.
Under his tutelage, UMass has enjoyed some of the program's highest levels of success on and off the field. With a history as one of the top teams in New England, the reputation of UMass lacrosse has spread out across the country thanks in part to Cannella's leadership. Since taking over as head coach, the team has enjoyed success as a whole and among individual players. Cannella has produced three Tewaaraton finalists, 44 USILA All-America selections, 97 All-New England picks, 65 all-conference honorees and nine positional league players of the year. For the work accomplished by Minutemen in the classroom, the program has earned 12 Academic All-Americans, 37 New England Scholar-Athletes and 30 academic all-conference picks.
Since 2001, UMass has been one of the most successful programs in the country thanks in part to the friendly confines of Garber Field. During that span, Cannella has led UMass to a 76-26 home record, including an 8-1 mark in 2012. Overall, the Minutemen are 138-72 since 2001, with six seasons featuring 12 or more wins.
More recently, Cannella led a young Minuteman squad featuring 24 underclassmen among 37 total players to a 7-6 record during the 2014 campaign. UMass earned wins over a pair of nationally ranked programs in No. 5 Penn State and No. 14 Ohio State during the year, before it ended the season receiving votes in the national polls. Following the end of the campaign, freshman Nick Mariano took in the CAA Rookie of the Year Award while he was honored on the All-CAA listing alongside teammates Kyle Karaska and Connor Mooney. Cannella was also inducted into the National Junior College Athletic Association Hall of Fame for his accomplishments within the game of lacrosse spanning nearly 30 years as a competitor and coach.
Two of the most historic campaigns in the program's history have occurred under Cannella's watch. The 2006 squad became the first-ever New England-based team to reach the NCAA Championship Game, while the 2012 squad went undefeated during the regular-season with a program-best 15 wins and a No. 1 national ranking.
The 2006 season will go down as one of the best for any athletic program at UMass. As an unseeded team, the Minutemen had the most difficult path to a lacrosse championship game in history, beating the second, third and fourth-ranked teams in the nation. UMass topped No. 2 seed Maryland, 8-5 in the semifinals after advancing to its first Final Four with a stunning 11-10 overtime win against Hofstra on May 20, 2006. The difficult comeback saw the Minutemen rally from a 10-5 deficit with 8:03 left in the fourth quarter as UMass won its quarterfinal game at Stony Brook.
During the 2006 campaign, Cannella also had a personal milestone as he recorded his 100th career win after a 12-7 victory at Harvard on March 11.
Individually, that season saw UMass produce two First-Team USILA All-Americans for the first time in school history with Sean Morris on attack and Jack Reid being honored on defense. Jake Deane was also named an honorable mention All-American. For the second year in a row, Morris was named a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy as the top player in all of NCAA Division I college lacrosse.
During the 2012 regular season, week-by-week, UMass continued to win games - some in dramatic fashion and others through a relentless fury of goal scoring and a stifling defense. As each week of the regular-season went on, the Minutemen continued to climb higher and higher in the national polls. On April 16, 2012 it became official, the Minutemen were the No. 1 team in the country, marking the first time a UMass athletic program held the top spot in the country since the 1995-96 NCAA Final Four men's basketball team. Cannella led the Minutemen to an undefeated regular-season, the program's first-ever CAA Tournament Title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament for the 19th time in the history of the Minutemen.
Individually, UMass produced six USILA All-Americans, including Will Manny being selected to the first-team. Manny also earned CAA Player of the Year, New England Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award. Cannella was recognized as the CAA Coach of the Year and the New England Coach of the Year.
Other milestone seasons for Cannella include 2005 and 2003, where the Minutemen won 13 games and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in each campaign.
The 2005 season saw the Minutemen tie the then-school record for wins with a 13-3 overall mark. UMass advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 10th time in program history while winning the ECAC and New England Championships. The season was historic as UMass knocked off Syracuse twice in a three-week span, including a 16-15 win in the NCAA Tournament First Round to end the Orange's 22-year run of reaching the semifinals. UMass was featured on ESPN's SportsCenter as well as in Sports Illustrated after the monumental win. Cannella continued to coach some of the nation's top players as attackman Sean Morris was selected as UMass' first-ever finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy. Morris was one of four all-Americans on the 2005 team, which also featured seven All-New England choices.
The 2003 UMass squad also tied the previous school record with 13 victories, advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals for only the fifth time in school history and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the country, the then-highest ranking for the Minutemen.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Cannella spent four years as an assistant coach at Stony Brook from 1988-92. Cannella masterminded the offense and served as the recruiting coordinator on John Espey's staff. He earned a master's degree in liberal studies while coaching at Stony Brook.
Cannella earned a bachelor's degree in physical education while playing at Massachusetts from 1986-87. He was a two-year starter for the Minutemen and a member of two NCAA Tournament teams. Cannella scored 64 points (33 goals, 31 assists) in his UMass career.
Before playing at UMass, Cannella spent one year at Nassau (N.Y.) Community College, where he was a first team All-America selection and led Nassau to the 1985 Junior College National Title.
A native of Lynbrook, N.Y., Cannella played for three years at Lynbrook High School. One of the most prolific scorers in Lynbrook history, Cannella was a high school All-America selection and still ranks among Lynbrook's all-time leading scorers.
Cannella served as the President of the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association in 1998, 1999 and 2000, and served as the Vice President in 1997. Cannella is currently the chairman of the annual NEILA Scholar Athlete Team, which he started in 1999. He has also served on the NCAA Championships Regional Advisory Committee that selected the teams for the NCAA Tournament in 1997, 1998 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Cannella was a regional voter in the USILA/STX weekly poll from 1997-2001 and has served as a USIlA regional voter for all-American selection since 2003. He now serves on the prestigious committee to help select the Tewaaraton Award, a honor given to the nation's top player.
Cannella was born on Sept. 2, 1965, in Rockville Centre, N.Y. He and his wife, Laurie, reside in Hadley with their son Vance and daughter Virginia.
Last updated on May 14, 2014
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