“They’re loaded on the offensive end, they have athletes that can play,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said.
“So it’s a challenge for us, coming off a loss on Friday, and they’re coming off of a loss on Saturday, so both team are going to be clawing a little bit,” Cannella said.
The Minutemen (2-1) fell to the Bulldogs Friday night 13-12, in a game characterized by back-and-forth scoring by both teams, along with falling out of the Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Men’s Division I Media Poll.
Matt Gibson, who scored five goals and added two assists for the Bulldogs for a career-best seven points, netted his most important one with 34 seconds left to give UMass their first loss of the 2010 season.
For the Minutemen, freshman midfielder Will Manny led the charge with his first career hat trick, while UMass senior midfielder Bobby Hayes (two goals) netted two goals. The Minutemen had seven different players score, including the first eight coming from eight different players.
“At times they played well, and at times they didn’t,” Cannella said. “We haven’t been great in scramble situations; we haven’t been great at man-down, and that has to do with both sides of the ball and between the lines.”
The Great Danes (0-3) are coming off a 16-9 defeat to No. 14 Delaware, as the Albany defense surrendered eight goals to Curtis Dickson, but almost got their first victory in a 13-12 loss to Siena the week before.
The Great Danes are led by attackmen Joe Resetarits, Brian Caufield and Dave Brock, who have combined for 18 goals and nine points.
Last season, the then-13th ranked Minutemen fell to the Great Danes, 13-9, even though UMass outshot its hosts 48-31, and received a ninth-career hat trick from senior Jim Connolly. The contest was tied six times, and for the first time in six years, was decided by more than one goal.
The Great Danes were led by Resetarits, who scored five goals on seven shots, while Caufield and Brock had three goals and four assists and two goals and two assists, respectively.
The Minutemen, who were in the midst of a three-game winning streak, went on to win four of their next five games in order to gain momentum going into the latter half of their campaign.
The Great Danes went on to finish the 2009 season with a .500 record (7-7), including a 3-2 conference record in America East.
“In the last seven years, we haven’t done really well against these guys, so hopefully we can get out there and play a good game,” Cannella said.
After their first road game, UMass had just three days in order to prepare for their next opponent. But Cannella knows that even with home-field advantage, playing two games in five days is a tough feat for any team.
“Anytime you play at home, it helps you, especially these midweek games, but Albany has come out here and beat us on the road, so we can’t count on that, we just have to focus on playing the best we can,” Cannella said.
“It’s hard in these short turnover games to do all your focus on yourselves, you do a little bit, but you have to concentrate on your opponent as well and prepare.”
All-time, the Great Danes hold a 5-4 advantage over the Minutemen, but UMass pulled out 9-8 victory in 2008 that saw it win after four consecutive one-goal losses.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.