December 18, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

BLOG: UMass football recruiting roundup: UMass signs DT, offers two kickers -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass President Robert Caret resigns to become chancellor of the University of Maryland system -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brandon Montour: ‘It felt great to be out there’ -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass falls to Northeastern in Brandon Montour’s debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cady Lalanne continues to evolve as a potential outside shooting threat -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMass hockey returns to action against Northeastern, Montour to make season debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demetrius Dyson remains hopeful despite rocky start to season -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former UMass soccer star Matt Keys aims to continue his career professionally -

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pierre-Louis, Dillard shine in UMass victory over Holy Cross -

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Passing, spacing improved in UMass victory -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prolific first half propels UMass past Canisius, 75-58 -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

UMass Faculty Senate hears ad hoc committee’s report on FBS football, shoots down contentious motion -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minutemen hope improved spacing will aid struggling half court offense -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Divest UMass urges Board of Trustees to split with fossil fuel industry -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cady Lalanne accustomed to dealing with increased attention -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Dec. 1, 2014 -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chiarelli: UMass basketball running out of time to find its identity -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Minutewomen take care of business against American -

Monday, December 8, 2014

UMass women’s basketball handles American, 71-61 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

UMass basketball downed by Florida Gulf Coast 84-75 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

With strong offense, defense still key for Mintuemen

Coming into this season, Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella knew he had a strong defense. However, now approaching his first conference game in the Colonial Athletic Conference, Cannella’s defensive approach is as important as ever.

After their first seven games, the No.18 Minutemen (5-2) lead the CAA with 14.14 goals per game. Their 60 assists rank second in the conference but No. 6 Hofstra (4-1) nearly matches UMass in each of those categories, besting the Minutemen with 8.8 assists per game.

Last season, UMass won games by an average of 4.6 goals, and their current margin is plus-4.4, but the Pride hold a larger win margin of five this season.

The Minutemen are holding their own defensively this season as well. UMass averages a conference-best 11.86 caused-turnovers per game, nearly five more per game than Hofstra.

Now in a conference full of perennial NCAA tournament teams, Cannella isn’t shying away from the notion that his defense will be consistently tested for 60 minutes.

“We know, defensively, that we’re going to play a lot because of our run-and-gun offense,” Cannella said. “We have to lean on our defense a bunch to win games because when we’re not shooting well they have to perform well.”

Running the UMass defense this season is redshirt senior All-American Diogo Godoi and sophomore Tom Celentani. Godoi (13 ground balls, 11 caused-turnovers) is a consistent veteran for the Minutemen with his physical defense and Celentani is taking advantage of his first full season of significant playing time.

Celentani leads all Minutemen with 20 caused-turnovers while starting every game this season for Cannella.

The two defenders provide UMass with a strong front in front of first-year starting goalkeeper Tim McCormack.

Even with defense being a strong point for the Minutemen so far this season, special-teams goals have hurt UMass early on in the season. The Minutemen have a conference-worst .414 penalty-kill percentage, giving up 17 man-down goals.

Cannella believes that the experience that the Minutemen get from those misfortunes help them for the future.

“It’s all about getting in some reps,” Cannella said about improving his special teams units. “[Being a] man down is about giving up the 12-15-yard shot and relying on your goalie to make some saves. We need to inject some energy into that group.”

While a lot of the pressure on defense lies on the goalie and defensemen themselves, midfielders have an important role on defense as well.

“They probably have one of the most important jobs on the field,” Cannella said. “It’s a tough chore for those guys but it’s also a selfless job. They don’t get a lot of press. They work on defending, clearing the ball and creating transition opportunities for us. They’ve all done a great job.”

Sophomore midfielder Greg Rushing has 72 faceoff wins in 122 chances and his team-leading 31 ground balls makes for a strong game in transition for the Minutemen. His .598 faceoff percentage is third in the CAA behind Charley Henneghan (.658) of Penn State and Zak Fisher (.605) of Drexel.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@student.umass.edu.

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