AMHERST, Mass. - UMass men's lacrosse begins its final week of preseason play in preparation for the 2013 campaign on Monday, with the Minutemen preparing to defend their 2012 Colonial Athletic Association Title. UMass went 15-1 overall and 6-0 in the CAA to earn the program's 23rd New England Championship last year, with eight Minutemen named all-conference and six earning USILA All-America laurels. UMass will be tested early and often during the upcoming season, with 11 contests against teams receiving recognition in the USILA Preseason Coaches Poll, including a neutral-site game against No. 4 North Carolina and CAA meetings with No. 15 Penn State and No. 20 Hofstra.
OFFENSE Three of the top four point scorers in 2012 return for the Minutemen for the upcoming campaign, including Tewaaraton Award finalist Will Manny, who notched 44 goals and 33 assists en route to USILA First Team All-America status last season. Manny is joined by attack Kyle Smith and midfielder Colin Flemingas the dominant returning offensive pieces after the duo combined for 59 goals and 27 assists one year ago. Smith had four game-winners among his 33 tallies, tied with Manny for the most of the 2012 team. Fleming emerged as a reliable threat on the attack with 26 goals and eight assists, especially during man-up situations when he recorded a squad-best seven tallies.
DEFENSE 2012 USILA All-American Jake Smith is back for his senior season with the Minutemen and will anchor a defensive unit that will see new faces worked into the rotation following the graduations of Greg Anderson and Tom Celentani. Smith served as a starter in all 16 games as a junior, recording 28 groundballs and 11 caused turnovers on the year. Ryan Hollenbaugh, who will also see time as a longstick midfielder in 2013, will be looked upon to help stymie the opposition after totaling 25 groundballs and 12 caused turnovers last season.
FACEOFF UMass lost its No. 1 and No. 2 faceoff men to graduation in Anthony Torresco (140-of-224; 62.5 pct.) and Greg Rushing (46-of-75; 61.3 pct.). However, the Minutemen are not without an experience returnee in the circle, as Joe Calvello won 30 faceoffs in 66 attempts as sophomore last year (45.5 pct.) and will look to build upon a scholastic career at Naperville North High School in Woodridge, Ill., where he won 81.3 percent of his faceoff attempts. Ryan Hollenbaughis the only other Minuteman to take a collegiate faceoff in 2012, going 1-for-1 in the category.
IN GOAL Reed Goodhue and Zach Oliveri will compete for time in net to replace the loss of three-year starter Tim McCormack. Goodhue has 10 appearances between the pipes for the Minutemen over the last two seasons after leading Masconomet High School to 60 wins during a four-year scholastic career with the Chieftains. Oliveri, a redshirt-freshman, recently won the U-19 World Championship with the U.S. National Team and was a high school all-American at Connetquot in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., with a career-67.0 save percentage.
SCHEDULE After using exhibitions with St. John's and Siena as tune-ups for the regular season, the Minutemen will be tested immediately with contests against Army, North Carolina and Harvard over the opening three weeks of the 2013 campaign. After hosting the Black Knights at Garber Field to begin the year on Feb. 9, UMass travels to battle UNC at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Ga. North Carolina is coming off of a 2012 NCAA Tournament appearance and is tied for fourth in the USILA Preseason Coaches Poll while being ranked seventh in the nation by the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll.
Competition will remain tough once the Minutemen begin Colonial Athletic Association competition, facing nationally-ranked Penn State to open conference play at Garber Field on March 16 before battling No. 20 Hofstra (USILA poll) in between meetings with Drexel and Delaware, both of which are receiving votes in the preseason rankings. In total, 11 of UMass' 14 regular season opponents are either ranked or tallying votes for the USILA Coaches Top-20, including the first eight foes.