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UMass looks to improve playoff position against Drexel

On paper, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team and Drexel are pretty similar.

The Minutemen look to exploit the No. 13 Dragons differences when they play their final regular season game of the 2010 season this Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

Both teams have clinched a birth in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, but the match-up will be a pivotal one, with both teams looking to get a higher seed while attempting to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The two teams will meet for the first time in program history, as both are new members of the CAA.

“We have to go down there and play a flawless game if we expect to come out on top,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said.

No. 9 UMass (8-4, 2-2 CAA) is coming off a 13-12 victory over No. 14 Georgetown last Saturday in the ESPNU Warrior Classic, as the Minutemen scored the last three goals to end a two-game losing streak.

“Confidence wise, for our guys to know we’ve done it before, but we didn’t win the game, we’ve come back in a couple of losses against Yale and Harvard, but we didn’t win the game, this one we did win the game,” Cannella said.

In his first career start, senior midfielder Christian Hain tallied the game-winning goal with 33 seconds left to give UMass the win.

“So it gives you confidence to do that, [but] unfortunately, that one’s past, that was Saturday, and now we’re into Tuesday and Wednesday, so it’s almost out of our memory, and we need to make sure we get ready for Drexel and Drexel only,” Cannella said earlier this week.

Along with Hain, freshman attackman Will Manny continued his scoring surge, tying a career high with five points while scoring his fifth-career hat trick against the Hoyas. Manny leads the team with 41 points on the season.

The No. 13 Dragons (9-4, 2-2 CAA) have a similar record to the Minutemen and also lost to No. 11 Towson and Delaware, the two opponents UMass fell to this season in its first year in the CAA.

The Dragons fell to the Blue Hens 10-6 last Saturday and 8-7 to the Tigers on April 17, but won their first two games in their new conference, a 13-11 victory over No. 15 Hofstra and a 12-7 win over Penn State.

The team is 6-1 at home this season, and will honor its 11 seniors before the game against the Minutemen, most notably attackman Colin Ambler. Ambler has started 13 games, and has 21 goals and 16 assists to lead the Dragons with 37 points.

Along with Ambler, attackman Scott Peri has 17 goals and 19 assists on the season, while goalkeeper Mark Manos, who leads the conference in save percentage (.605) and goals against average (7.90).

“They play very well together as a group,” Cannella said.

UMass is in the Top 10 in the country in six statistical categories including sixth in assists per game (7.92). The Minutemen are eighth in the NCAA in goals scored (12.33), and 64.2 percent of UMass’ goals have been assisted so far this season.

David Brinch can be reached at dbrinch@student.umass.edu.

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