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February 11, 2016

Rushing sidelined, UMass drops in national rankings

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Massachusetts men’s lacrosse midfielder Greg Rushing has missed the past two games due to mononucleosis and will remain off the field for the near future.

The junior has won 36-of-66 faceoffs for the Minutemen (5-2) this season and was a key contributor to the team’s big wins early in the season.

Rushing was instrumental in UMass’ 11-9 victory over No. 20 Ohio State, winning 12-of-17 faceoffs and scooping 11 groundballs to help secure the victory. The Fort Collins, Colo. native has controlled this season, which is by far the most on the team with Tim McCormack and Anthony Toresco tied for second with 19.

Toresco has handled the faceoff duties in Rushing’s absence, winning 6-of-17 against Providence on March 15 and 11-of-17 against Penn State on Saturday.

Rushing needs to be cleared by the medical staff in order to resume playing, but head coach Greg Cannella said on Saturday in a UMassathletics.com interview that he expects him to be back in approximately one month.

Junior Art Kell and sophomore Will Manny lead the Minutemen with 20 points this season to lead UMass’ balanced attack.

Kell has 12 goals and eight assists, while Manny has 7 goals and a team-high 13 assists. Junior Anthony Biscardi is tied with Kell for the team lead in goals (12) while also adding five assists for a total of 17 points, good for third-most on the Minutemen.

Senior Ryan Hantverk and sophomore Colin Fleming round out the top five point totals with 14 and 11 respectively. Hantverk has 10 goals and four assists, while Fleming has chipped in with eight goals and three assists.

UMass largely outshot its opposition this season, 281-185. The Maroon and White totals are exceptionally lopsided in the second half, outshooting their opponents 79-36 and 76-48 in the third and fourth periods respectively.

UMass has also dominated the groundball war. The Minutemen have corralled 217 compared to their opponents’ 174, which has afforded their attack extra possessions and more scoring opportunities. That can be seen in the scoring averages, as the Maroon and White have averaged a total of 10.14 goals per contest compared to their opponents’ 7.57.

Junior goalie McCormack has been phenomenal in net, accumulating 63 saves while surrendering 53 goals. Strong defensive play from junior Tom Celentani, sophomore Jake Smith and the rest of the defensive unit has limited the opposition’s number of quality shots against McCormack.

After dropping their first conference game against Penn State on Saturday (8-7), the Minutemen’s national ranking dropped four spots to No. 16 according to the Nike Inside Lacrosse poll on Monday.

The Syracuse Orangemen (6-0) sit atop the national rankings for the sixth consecutive week after defeating Johns Hopkins, 5-4, on Saturday. Virginia (7-1), Notre Dame (4-0), Duke (6-2) and Maryland (6-1) round out the nation’s top five teams.

Colonial Athletic Association foe Hofstra (6-1) sits at No. 6 in the rankings. UM battles the Pride on April 23 at a neutral site in East Hartford, Conn.

Finishing the top 10 are Cornell (5-2), North Carolina (6-2), Army (6-2) and Stony Brook (3-3).

Once ranked at No. 5, UMass has dropped 11 spots in the past two weeks after suffering its first two losses.

The Minutemen travel to Harvard on Tuesday and follow with five consecutive CAA tests to close the season, starting with a visit to Saint Joseph’s on April 2.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at ssellner@student.umass.edu.

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