The No. 5 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team puts its four-game winning streak on the line on Tuesday afternoon with a tough road test at Albany.
Albany (1-1) grabbed its first win of the season on Saturday in its home opener, 11-9 victory against Delaware, but lost its season opener, 14-7, at Drexel the week before.
“You [have to] love the way they play,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella. “They play hard, it’s a tough group, good athletes, some really crafty players…good intensity, hustle, all those things that I love in a team.”
Albany features a young attack with freshmen cousins, Miles (three goals) and Ty Thompson (four goals), and junior Joe Resetarits. The Hamburg, N.Y. native leads the team with five goals this season and cashed in on three scores against the Minutemen last season.
Brian Caufield anchors the midfield unit for the Great Danes. The senior can beat a team with both his scoring and passing, tallying 10 goals and 22 assists a year ago. The rest of the group possesses great depth and the athleticism to play effectively in both the offensive and defensive zones.
“That makes those guys really dangerous in transition as well and Albany can get the ball up … and go to the goal and be … true threats,” said Cannella.
Albany has shown two goalkeepers this season, with freshman Edmund Cathers and junior John Caroll each starting a game. Cathers earned the win on Saturday against Delaware, making him the likely starter on Tuesday. The Syracuse, N.Y.-native has made 12 saves and allowed 12 goals in 75 minutes of action.
Offensive balance has been an instrumental aspect to the Minutemen’s hot start to the season. Last weekend’s win over Brown ended with freshman Connor Mooney and junior Anthony Biscardi earning hat tricks, while junior Steve D’Amario added a pair of goals for the Minutemen. Biscardi leads the team with eight scores, followed closely by sophomore Will Manny with six goals and four others with five.
“[Balance is] important every game … Not only that balance, but just to be willing to remain unselfish,” said Cannella.
Cannella added that he hopes to continue to get more players involved in the scoring as the season progresses.
Both teams will be working on two days rest, as opposed to having the typical week of rest and preparation.
“You really have to be mentally sharp for games like [these],” said Cannella.
Cannella added that he might need to utilize his depth more in order to keep his team fresh for the third and fourth quarters.
John Fallon Field has not been kind to the Minutemen over the years. UMass has dropped its last three contests at the venue, but Cannella knows that number is more a result of a quality opponent than the location of the game.
The Maroon and White emerged victorious in last year’s matchup, 11-6, on March 9 at Garber Field. UMass trailed 4-1 in the second period before outscoring the Great Danes 10-2 over the final three frames. Kell had two goals and three assists on the day, while Hantverk netted two goals as well.
The Minutemen are off to a fast start early in the season, jumping four spots to No. 5 in the nation. It marks the first time UMass has been in the top five since the 2003 season. Cannella has been particularly impressed with his team’s consistent effort early in the season, but knows it is hard to repeat that intensity game after game.
“That’s the hardest part of this [season], to be consistent over the marathon. It’s not a sprint…I tell [the players], ‘Listen, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.’”
Stephen Sellner can be reached at email@example.com.