In its second matchup against a ranked opponent this season, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team defeated Ohio State, 11-9, Saturday at Garber Field.
Despite suffering an early deficit, No. 11 UMass (3-0) buckled down on defense to limit the attack of the No. 13-ranked Buckeyes (3-1).
“I think both teams were pretty sloppy today, [there were] a lot of turnovers,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said after the win. “I know [I saw] way too [many] for my taste on our side.”
The Minutemen had 16 turnovers, compared to 18 by Ohio State. In the first quarter, especially, Cannella felt his team was pressing on offense and rushing possessions, which put the team in an early hole. While the attack responded in the second half, the defense was tested heavily.
“I thought today we put a lot of pressure on our defense,” Cannella said. “We turned the ball over too many times. We had to rely on our defense to be so solid, and you can’t do that to those guys all the time.”
Overall, UMass received goals from seven different players, including four who notched multiple scores.
Freshman Connor Mooney scored two goals for the first scores of his collegiate career. Following two goals by the Buckeyes midway through the fourth period, Mooney responded with his two scores in a span of less than a minute to give the Minutemen an 11-7 lead.
“He hadn’t been able to do that the previous two games, but he did a nice job inside and, fortunately for us, he finished them off,” Cannella said of Mooney’s performance.
After playing well in the first two contests of the season, Mooney felt more comfortable in the offense and was able to finally capitalize on his scoring chances.
“[I] definitely had some nerves the first game, but in the second game out here at Garber, I calmed down a little bit and got to play my game,” Mooney said.
Another player who scored twice was sophomore Colin Fleming. With the game in the balance, tied at five apiece midway through the third period, Fleming put in two-straight goals before junior Mike Fetterly added another to give UMass an 8-5 lead heading into the final frame.
The three-goal run swung the momentum in favor of the Minutemen and gave Fleming and his team confidence.
“Especially with that momentum, when you get one goal, [the] next time you get the ball you want to get another one,” Fleming said. “When you string two in a row, it’s huge momentum for you and for the team as a whole.”
Along with Mooney and Fleming, juniors Anthony Biscardi and Art Kell provided two-goal efforts for UMass. The balance on offense was encouraging for Cannella, who doesn’t want any one attacker to be relied upon as heavily as the defense was in the victory.
“It doesn’t matter who scores. I think if you ask these guys, they’ll tell you the same thing,” Cannella said. “You hope that can be consistent.”
Ohio State came out of the gates strong, posting a 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the contest. UMass, however, fought back, as both teams traded punches before Fleming broke the game open in the third quarter.
Jarred Bowman led the way for the Buckeyes, recording three goals and notching an assist.
Junior goalie Tim McCormack earned his third win of the year in the cage, making six saves.
The Minutemen will look to remain undefeated when they host Brown Saturday at Garber Field in a 1 p.m. start.
Jay Asser can be reached at email@example.com.