It was cold, wet and misting, but Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella had his team out on the field bright and early Saturday morning for a scrimmage against Siena.
No. 15 UMass played up to its caliber in the exhibition against the Saints, controlling the ball with timely passes and playing a lot of defensemen up near the mid-to-offensive zone.
The Minutemen took control from the start, with early goals by seniors Ryan Liebel and Ryan Hantverk. Liebel’s goal came in the middle of the zone, where UMass weaved a bunch of attackers near the top. Liebel eventually came right down the middle, seeing a mismatch with a lack of defenders in numbers and plenty space to run into.
In 2010, the Longmeadow, Mass. native started the first 11 games on attack, scoring 14 goals. Overall, the then-junior contributed 19 points on the season, helping UMass advance to the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs in its first year in the conference.
Late in the second quarter, with UMass pushing the ball deep into the offensive zone, attacker Art Kell received a pass, found an opening and room to run with the ball on the left. He quickly charged in, fired a shot and found the back of the net.
Last season, the junior notched 33 points for UMass, scoring 21 goals in only eight games. As the team’s third-leading returning goal scorer from last season, Kell looks to contribute even more on the offensive end in 2011.
In the wet conditions, the Minutemen were able to control the ball and move it up and down the field at their own pace, forcing the Saints back deep in their zone for much of the match. The middle of the field was virtually left untouched, as both teams worked the sidelines, generating passes towards the middle, once in their respective offensive areas.
The defense was solid from start to finish, a possible staple for this year’s squad. Seniors Travis Tripuka and Mael Walkowiak controlled the area for UMass, pressing Siena backward when on attack. Forced to play back, the Saints mostly took deep shots and were hardly allowed inward towards the middle.
Senior Dan Lawson took four shots on net, with one coming from the right of the net as he slipped past a screen of UMass defenders. He received a pass and put a shot on goal, only to be denied by goaltender Tim McCormack.
McCormack, a junior who started all 14 games last season for the Minutemen and held a .523 saves percentage, looks to build upon what he did last season.
With two scrimmages now in the books, the Minutemen look ahead to this Saturday as they will open their regular season against No. 12 Army at Garber Field.
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.