No. 8 UMass Claims 20th New England Title, Beating Harvard 8-5
April 26, 2005
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - The No. 8 UMass lacrosse team captured its 20th New England Championship with a 8-5 win over Harvard at Jordan Field on Tuesday afternoon. The Minutemen have won four of the last five NEILA titles winning three straight from 2001-03. The win also gave UMass its 19th 10-win season in program history reaching double figures in four of the last five seasons.
UMass (10-2 overall) scored seven unanswered goals bridging the first through third quarters, holding Harvard (5-6) scoreless for 36:25, the Minutemen defense's longest such streak this season. In the run, Jeff Zywicki (Napean, Ontario) scored three goals for his 11th career hat trick to give the Minutemen a 7-1 lead midway through the third quarter. The senior finished with a season-high tying four goals and now has 29 this season.
Tewaaraton Trophy Candidate and leading scorer Sean Morris (Marshfield, Mass.) had three points on one goals and two assists as he now has 50 points this season. Senior Ryan Connolly (North Andover, Mass.) had a goal and assist for the second game in a row. Classmate Gene Tundo (Orchard Park, N.Y.) also had a goal and assist.
The UMass defense, ranked eighth in the nation in goals against average coming into the game gave up just five goals as netminder Bill Schell (Mahopac, N.Y.) made nine saves.
UMass broke open a 2-1 lead midway through the third quarter with five goals in 2:47 as Zywicki scored twice along with single goals by Connolly, Morris and Pat Larmon (Chesterfield, Mo.) as the Minutemen made it 7-1 with 6:04 left in the third quarter. Morris added assists on two of the goals for three points in the run. UMass outshot the Crimson, 11-1 in the third quarter.
The ECAC's leading goal scorer, Morris finally got on the board as he scored with 8:36 left in the third quarter to make it 4-1. The Minutemen took a 3-1 lead as Connolly ripped a shot past Craig Thomas, who had replaced injured Crimson starter Evan O'Donnell. Connolly took the pass from Morris for his first point of the game - extending his over point scoring streak to 18 games.
In a low scoring first half, Zywicki gave UMass its first lead off a feed from Connolly to put the Minutemen ahead 2-1 with 6:33 left in the first half. UMass' defense was sensational holding the Crimson off the scoreboard for the final 24:29. Schell made four saves in the half.
UMass controlled the first quarter outshooting the Crimson, 9-5, but the teams stood tied after 15 minutes. Gene Tundo got UMass on the board with 4:05 left in the first quarter as he converted UMass' eighth shot of the game. Harvard opened the scoring as Zach Widbin ripped a bounce shot past Schell 5:31 into the game.
UMass has now won 11 straight games at Harvard, last losing to the Crimson in their home field in 1983. Overall, UMass leads the series 26-10 as the teams have played at least once every season since 1970.
The game was originally scheduled for March 9 but was postponed due to winter weather conditions.
The Minutemen host No. 7 Syracuse on Saturday, April 30 on Senior Day, the regular-season finale at Garber Field. The Minutemen and Orange face-off at 1 p.m. UMass, which is in first place in the ECAC can lock up its third conference title in the last five years with a win at Rutgers on May 7 in the regular-season finale.