After his team scored 20 goals against Hartford on Saturday, Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella admitted that he wasn’t shocked, but still surprised at his team’s offensive output.
“In our first couple of scrimmages, we scored five and we scored nine, so now you go 15 and 20,” Cannella said. “I don’t know if we were holding back in the scrimmages, or if I was screwing the guys up in the scrimmages, probably the latter for sure.”
The Minutemen (2-0) scored 15 goals in their 2010 debut against Sacred Heart last Saturday, and followed up with a 20-goal effort against the Hawks (0-1) in their home opener at Garber Field.
It was the most goals scored by a UMass team since the 2002 season, as the first half alone saw both teams combine for 30 goals, including 13 from the Minutemen.
On May 4 of that year, the Minutemen defeated Rutgers, 21-9, as they scored 13 in the first half and the last time they reached the 20-goal mark.
“You don’t predict it, you just go out and play the games. Fortunately we kept scoring, because we gave up 10,” Cannella said.
Junior midfielder Ryan Hantverk, who scored four goals in 2009, scored a career-high four goals and had two assists for a career-high six points, while six different Minutemen recorded multi-goal games, and seven different players had at least three points.
Senior captains Bobby Hayes and Ryan Smith each recorded three each for the Minutemen, with Smith’s being the first goal of his career, and Hayes added two assists for a career-high five points.
Hayes, who had 12 goals in 2009, leads the team with seven goals in just two games.
“He’s a real leader for us on the extra man, he’s been pretty successful there,” Cannella said. “He’s playing with some pretty athletic guys in Hantverk and [Anthony] Biscardi so you know, Bobby’s been so consistent over his career here in his approach.”
Sophomore attackman Art Kell added two goals, along with freshman attackman Kyle Smith and sophomore midfielder Biscardi.
The Minutemen also tied another record, as their six extra-man goals tied the mark set during the 1999 season against Fairfield and in the 2005 season against Johns Hopkins.
UMass was 6-of-9 in man-up opportunities, including a perfect 1-for-1 in the first quarter and 3-for-3 in the third quarter, while going 0-for-2 in the fourth quarter.
Both Smith and Biscardi scored two apiece on the man-up advantage, while freshman midfielder Will Manny added a goal and three assists for four points in the victory.
Ryan Liebel, Christian Hain and K.R. Jurgelevich each scored a goal for UMass.
The Minutemen lost 70 goals from Jim Connolly and Tim Balise last season, but with Hayes, Hantverk and a number of younger players stepping up for UMass, Cannella sees this team’s offensive production as a good sign for things to come later on in the season.
“The goals we lost last year from Connolly, from Balise, those guys didn’t have any assists,” Cannella said. “I think the ball moves a little bit quicker now within the offense, the guys are really unselfish in their approach, so again, you need to be consistent.”
Eight of the Minutemen’s goals were scored by underclassmen, with a quarter of the goals coming from non-starters, as freshmen Jurgelevich and Smith’s goals were the first of their careers.
“You hope that those guys can contribute as young players, and for the most part, it’s all about confidence, as well as opportunity,” Cannella said.
David Brinch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.