April 19, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

VIDEO: UMass United Ralley in support of Derrick Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Friday, April 18, 2014

John Ashcroft faces criticism during speech -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Student rally in support of Gordon, LGBTQ community -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thousands gather in Amherst Commons for 23rd Annual Extravaganja -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sexual violence is not ‘normal’ -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

One year after Boston Marathon bombings, UMass doctor Pierre Rouzier continues passion to help -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Photo Slideshow: UMass United Rally -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Yourself Tested at UMass -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass football continues move in new direction in annual Spring Game -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Library labyrinth targets stress -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing to debate about global warming -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass hits the road to take on LaSalle -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse looks to extend winning streak against Richmond -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive latest McCormack Executive-in-Residence -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Got a little Irish in you? -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass doctoral student awarded Soros Fellowship -

Thursday, April 17, 2014

UMass Dressage Team discusses the lesser-known sport -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Canelas: Things worth watching in Spring Game 2014 -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘The Walking Dead’ finale resurrects a dull season -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Five places to study at UMass -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

New conference for UMass in 2010

Last year, a strong core of seniors carried the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.

This year’s team however, knows that it,  again, has something to prove.  

“The senior group every year has a lot to prove,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella. “They have to get out there and play, and prove that this team is an NCAA caliber team, because that is what we want to be. They’ve got a tough chore ahead of them, but they’ve been able to handle what’s come to them so far.”

The team has a very different look since it last took the field, and also will be playing in a different conference. UMass was realigned from the Eastern College Athletic Conference into the Colonial Athletic Conference during the off-season, and will face a swath of new opponents for the first time in a number of years.

“The change of conference is great,” said Cannella. “One of the best things that comes with the CAA is the conference championship. At the end of the year, regardless if you’re first, second, third or fourth, you have a chance at getting the automatic qualification, at winning the conference and getting into the tournament that way.”

The new conference consists of Drexel, Hofstra, Towson, Penn State and Delaware. UMass has had success against programs like the Pride and UD in the past, but is not as familiar with its new conference as it was with the ECAC.

“The difficulties are that we don’t know a lot about those teams,” said Cannella. “So we have to learn a lot about them this year. Certainly we will learn more and more as we go on, and we’ll get to know the teams and what they like to do and how they play.”

The conference schedule begins Mar. 27 against Hofstra, and is only interrupted by a game between UMass and Georgetown at UConn on April 24. The game against the Hoyas will be part of the ESPNU Warrior Classic, and is the only nationally televised game on the Minutemen’s schedule.

Three out of the five conference games are away, and more importantly are in places that UMass is not used to traveling.

“We’re going to travel to different places, and anytime there is a change and people feel that change, it creates a lot of anxiety for people who have never been there before,” said Canella. “They like familiar settings, they like familiarity, but in my opinion, we’re leaving one great conference and going to another great one.”

With the graduation of Doc Schneider, Tim Balise, Jim Connolly and others, the Minutemen also have a lot of leadership to replace. The Minutemen are bottom-heavy in terms of class, and consist of six seniors, nine juniors, 12 sophomores and 13 freshmen.

Captains Bobby Hayes, Diogo Godoi and Ryan Smith will try to bring the team together as leaders, but will have help from the coaching staff.

“We create a leadership council,” said Cannella of the process. “Every senior is on that, along with select juniors, sophomores and freshmen, and we try and bring those guys together and foster a good relationship with the team and the coaches. We make sure people are connected from the seniors all the way down to the freshman.”

One thing that UMass does have working for it is where that experience is located. The team returns Godoi, Greg Anderson and Travis Tripucka on defense, as well as defensive-minded midfielders Steve Zorkers, Ryan Liebel and Casey Rahn.

UMass’ success last year brings high expectations for this year’s group. Even though they lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Princeton, the Minutemen are working hard to do better than last year.

“I think they know what we’re working on and what we’re pushing them towards,” Cannella said.

Cannella, who is entering his sixteenth year as UMass’ head coach, has plenty of accolades on his fact sheet. Cannella holds a 131-84 record in his time in Amherst, and points to the success his teams have had as his motivation.

“You watch them mature, fight, run, lift, practice, cry and laugh, and all those things to me sitting behind this desk,  that’s the least fun of it. The best part of it is to be out there on that field and get excited about playing lacrosse.”

Neil Carroll can be reached at nacarroll@student.umass.edu.

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