After falling behind, 2-0, on Saturday, it appeared the No. 12 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team would have to pull out a come-from-behind victory, much like it did in a 14-10 win over Hartford a week earlier.
Trailing Hartford, 7-5, at halftime, the Minutemen came out in the second frame and dominated en route to a 14-10 victory.
“Right after we went down 2-0, all the guys kept saying, ‘We’ve been here before, we can do it, we can come back,’ and we were able to do it,” freshman Connor Mooney said.
The No. 12 Minutemen (3-0) were not fazed by No. 15 Ohio State’s fast start, stringing together three-consecutive goals of their own to seize momentum, which appeared to be a running theme throughout the game at Garber Field.
“This game is a game of momentum,” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said. “It’s hard to hold on to it.”
The Minutemen got on the board with six minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first period in what appeared to be the turning point of the game.
In desperate need of a score, sophomore Colin Fleming’s errant pass was mishandled by senior Ryan Hantverk, resulting in a mad rush for the ball by both teams at the edge of the Minutemen offensive zone. Fleming scooped up the groundball and found junior Anthony Biscardi behind the collapsed Buckeye defense for the score to help sway the energy in favor of the home team.
“I think that was a real big [swing of] momentum,” Fleming said. “Getting the first goal off a scrappy play like that is UMass lacrosse at its best.”
The momentum did not end there, as Art Kell netted a pair of consecutive goals to help UMass grab its first lead of the game, erasing OSU’s strong start.
UMass was fortunate the deficit was limited to just two, as goalkeeper Tim McCormack denied multiple bids by the Ohio State attack to build on its early lead.
“That’s why your goalie’s back there,” Cannella said about McCormack’s clutch performance. “I think he expects [making big saves] more than we expect it.”
With the Minutemen holding a 5-3 advantage at the break, the Buckeyes stormed out of the locker room with a vengeance, knotting the score at five apiece after goals by Logan Schuss and Jeff Tundo.
Once again, though, UMass had an answer.
Fleming responded with two consecutive goals, rifling a pair of shots past OSU goalkeeper Greg Dutton to help the Minutemen recapture the momentum and the lead, 7-5.
“Once you get one goal…you want to get another one,” Fleming said. “When you string two in a row…it’s huge momentum for yourself and the team as a whole.”
Mike Fetterly and Bobby Tyler added unassisted scores of their own, providing insurance and diminishing the likelihood of a Buckeye comeback.
“Our guys just did a good job of not getting intimidated and…coming back,” Tyler said. “I think we [have] a strong group of guys and we all battled back.”
A key factor in the Minutemen’s surge was the play of faceoff-specialist Greg Rushing. The junior was 12-for-17 on faceoffs, creating extra possessions and limiting the opposition’s time of possession and shot attempts.
“That’s kind of the way we play,” Cannella said. “If we’re going to be successful, we have to finish the ball, we have to make saves, but we also have to win faceoffs.”
After OSU cut the lead to 9-7, Mooney pushed the margin back to four with his first two goals of the season to put a stamp on the victory.
Stephen Sellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.