In a battle between two high-scoring offenses, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team will square off against Colonial Athletic Association opponent Drexel on Saturday at Garber Field. The No. 14 Minutemen will make their return home after being on the road for nearly a month.
While the three-game road stint produced two wins, University of Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella is looking for his team to get a shot of energy from being back at Garber.
“Guys take a lot of pride in playing and practicing out on Garber so hopefully it does [help],” said Cannella. “You take out the travel equation and that certainly helps you a little bit, not being on a bus for seven hours. …It takes a little bit out of your legs and we won’t have to deal with that this week.”
The Minutemen (7-3, 2-1 CAA) are coming off consecutive victories, including an overtime thriller against Towson last Saturday. After facing struggles in a four-game stretch in the heart of its schedule, UMass appears to be getting back to early-season form when it began 4-0.
Going up against a potent attack in the Dragons (6-5, 2-2 CAA) this weekend, the Minutemen will have their hands full with trying to both slow down and keep up with the highest-scoring team in the conference (11 goals per game).
Being ranked right behind Drexel in offense at 10.5 goals per game and having the ability to grind out wins with its stout defense (ranked No. 2 in the CAA, 8.07 goals against average), UMass is more than capable of giving the Dragons fits.
“We would love a fast pace in all our games but we’ve come to the realization now at this point in the season that teams aren’t going to play that way against us, they’re going to slow it down so we do have to grind it out, we do have to be patient with our offensive possessions in particular,” said Cannella.
Drexel, however, will look to score and score a lot. When reaching double-figures this season in goals, the Dragons are 5-1. Leading their attack is senior Scott Perri, who anchors Drexel as a co-captain.
Perri leads the CAA in goals scored (29), assists (21) and points (50) this season. Though limiting his opportunities will be a point of emphasis for UMass on Saturday, it will be easier said than done.
“It’s hard to contain him because you slide to him early, he feeds the ball,” said Cannella. “If you don’t slide to him, he scores the ball.”
Fortunately for the Minutemen, the defense will have experience playing against similar talent in their offense. Going up against players like Anthony Biscardi, Art Kell and Will Manny every practice will do nothing but prepare them for opponents, Cannella feels.
“I think it helps those guys,” said Cannella. “What has helped those guys is their approach, their approach every day, their approach with coach Burns and their preparations, their actions there on the practice field and their attention to detail, that’s what helps.”
In the first-ever meeting between the two teams last year on May 1, Drexel handed UMass a 12-6 loss in the final game of the regular season.
After coming out of the gates with a 3-0 advantage, the Minutemen allowed a 7-0 run by the Dragons which extended to an 11-2 run to bridge the first and forth quarter. Perri scored a game-high four goals while Ryan Liebel tallied a pair of goals for UMass in a losing effort.
The Minutemen will look for a different result on Saturday with the contest scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.
Jay Asser can be reached at email@example.com.