While halftime is often taken for granted, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team uses it as valuable time to adjust and prepare for the second half. Thus far in a young season, UMass has benefited from the intermission, creating separation from opponents in the third quarter.
“We’ve made some adjustments, but I think it’s more the guys going, ‘OK, we have 30 minutes, let’s go win the next quarter,’” said UMass coach Greg Cannella. “I think they’re focus and their ability to buckle down has been great so far.”
In its latest win, a 9-6 result over Brown on Saturday at Garber field, the No. 5 Minutemen (4-0) were deadlocked with the Bears at four apiece entering the half. In the third period, however, UMass scored three-straight goals to take a lead that would not be challenged for the remainder of the contest.
Senior Ryan Hantverk set the tone of the charge, recording the first score of the half less than a minute into the third period (14 minutes, 18 second mark).
Similarly, in their 14-10 victory over Hartford on Feb. 19, the Minutemen trailed 7-5 at halftime before exploding in the third period to change the complexion of the game.
UMass outscored the Hawks, 6-1, in the third frame, including four consecutive goals (three by sophomore Will Manny) to take an 11-8 lead into the fourth and final period.
“I think we just settle down on both sides of the ball,” said Cannella. “When we’ve played in those third quarters, we’ve been able to score first in those third quarters and create those one or two-goal cushions. That also helps our defense to relax and gives them confidence to relax, too.”
While the scoring coming out of the intermission has been timely, the defense has had just as much to do with dominating the second half. Along with the one-goal effort by the UMass defense in the third period against Hartford, the Minutemen also held Army scoreless in the third frame in the season opener.
For the season, UMass has allowed four scores to opponents in the third period, compared to eight, nine and nine goals in the first, second and fourth quarters, respectively. Of the 103 shots taken by opponents against the Minutemen, only 19 (18 percent), have come in the third period, while UMass’ scoring (13) and shots (44) are the highest of any period.
Though Cannella and the coaching staff offer adjustments to the players at halftime, Cannella admitted that his players are the ones who take the responsibility and bring it onto the field for the second half.
“I think the things that you hear at halftime, the people that have spoken, not only the captains but the leaders of the team, they have the ability to go out there and make a difference on the field and make the right decisions out there,” said Cannella. “I think they’ve done that.”
The Minutemen will look to continue their success against Albany on Tuesday on the road.
In their two games this year, the Great Danes have been inconsistent coming out of halftime. In its season opener, Albany failed to score a goal in the third period, while allowing three goals to Drexel in a 14-7 loss.
On March 5, however, the Great Danes scored five goals in the third frame, the most in any period for the game, en route to an 11-9 victory over Delaware. The stretch included four-straight scores by Albany in the first eight minutes of the second half.
With the season in full-swing and three games left at home for the year, Cannella recognizes that his veterans have upped their focus for the second half of contests, not wanting to have this season finish like the last.
“I think especially the senior class, there’s obviously a sense of urgency with those guys,” said Cannella. “For those guys, they have nine [games] left. That’s essential to any team’s success, any team that I’ve coached, for sure.”
Jay Asser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.