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May 11, 2016

Kell returns to form for Gorilla Lax

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

Junior attacker Art Kell has wasted little time this season getting back into form.

Kell, who suffered a broken foot last season against Hofstra, returned for the No. 11 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team this season and has already begun making an impact on the team.

For his eight-point performance last Saturday against Hartford, Kell earned both Colonial Athletic Association Lacrosse Co-Player of the Week and New England Lacrosse Player of the Week honors. His eight points were the highest in a single game by a Minuteman since Sean Morris achieved the same total on Feb. 26, 2006 against Hofstra.

Kell accomplished the eight points with two goals as well as six assists, which helped widen UMass’ (2-0) gap against the Hawks (0-1). His six helpers were a part of a second half scoring tangent by the Minutemen, as they outscored Hartford, 9-3, in the second half.

Additionally, Kell’s impressive six-assist performance is the most by a Minuteman since Kevin Leveille tallied just as many against Albany on March 18, 2002.

“We sort of expect that from Art, I think his teammates expect that from Art,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “I think Art expects that of him. They were thrilled to see Arty play at that level. It’s a great thing. It’s a great thing for his confidence and a great thing for the team’s confidence.”

Though many looked for Will Manny to be at the head of offensive production this season, Kell seems to be giving the sophomore a run for his money as he heads the Minutemen in total points (nine) and assists (six).

Cannella expects Kell to display a similar performance against No. 13 Ohio State on Saturday, just as he expects any player to perform well.

“We count on all our players to carry a load and Arty’s no different,” Cannella said.

While Cannella expects the team to perform well, this includes Kell not shifting his role and continuing to be a dominant attacking force.

“We hope that the people around Art can be very good as well,” Cannella said. “His role doesn’t change.  His role is to be part of the offense and to be part of this team.”

Being a part of the team might have been a tough transition for Kell to make after the injury that sent him to the sidelines last season. Cannella explained that as difficult as it was for Kell to watch the team from the bench, it gave him inspiration to do better this season.

“It was very hard for him to be hurt and watch our team play and not play very well in a bunch of games,” Cannella said. “[It was] frustrating for him and I think he had it in his mindset that he was going to just come back and play hard, which he has.”

From collegiate athletes to professionals, injuries set players back. With Kell, the injury did less to his personal performance than it did to setting back the UMass program.

“I think it set us back as a program because we didn’t have him last year,” Cannella said. “[It] probably set him back mentally for those couple months and through the summer, but when he came back and, again, came to practice, I think he kind of picked up where he left off last year as a solid player.”

Although he is on a recent streak of success, Kell will be looking to improve and hone his skill as the season progresses.

“I think Arty would be the first one to tell you [that] he’s got … a lot of things to work on,” Cannella said. “Certainly he can become a better all-around player and as an attackman, you’re not counted on only to score but to feed, but also to ride and to lead. He’s a junior now; we hope he’s playing his best lacrosse as a senior.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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