The No. 4 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse kicked off conference play in grand fashion.
Mike Fetterly netted the game-winning goal in overtime to lift UMass past No. 16 Penn State, 9-8, on Saturday in University Park, Pa., in both sides’ first contest in Colonial Athletic Association play.
The Minutemen (7-0, 1-0 CAA) won the opening faceoff of the extra frame after Anthony Toresco scooped up a ground ball. Fetterly’s first attempt went wide of the goal, but the senior made the most of his second attempt as UMass walked off with a win in its first overtime contest of the season.
The affair lived up to expectations as the Minutemen and Nittany Lions (3-3, 0-1 CAA) traded runs throughout the game, which featured seven lead changes and no lead greater than two goals. With the win, UMass improves to a perfect 4-0 away from Garber Field and marks the team’s third win over a ranked opponent this season.
UMass coach Greg Cannella expects more games of this magnitude as the calendar turns to CAA play.
“I think every game in the CAA is going to be a tough one,” he said. “The teams are pretty evenly matched, for sure. There’s a lot on the line in each game.”
Will Manny had the hot-hand once again, tallying three goals to give him a team-high 21 goals for the season. Art Kell, Kyle Smith and Fetterly each added a pair as well to round out the Minutemen attack.
Trailing 7-5 heading into the fourth quarter, the Minutemen reeled off three straight scores to regain the lead, 8-7, with six minutes, 42 seconds remaining in regulation. Manny had a pair during the run — including the go-ahead goal — and Smith added one as well to help UMass grab its first lead since the start of the third quarter.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Matthew Mackrides completed his hat trick just 1:12 later with an unassisted goal to knot the score at eight. That’s how the score remained until Fetterly broke through in overtime, beating PSU stud goalkeeper Austin Kaut to give the Minutemen the victory in sudden death.
“We were able to fight them off the entire game,” said Cannella.
Penn State drew first blood after Nick Dolik beat Tim McCormack 3:39 into the game. But UMass responded less than two minutes later, as Manny netted his first of the contest, followed by scores from Kell and Smith to build a 3-1 advantage.
The Nittany Lions strung together a 3-0 run of their own to retake the lead, 4-3, at the conclusion of the first.
The second quarter was a stalemate for the first 14 minutes until the Minutemen strung together a pair of goals in the final 34 seconds of the half to take a 5-4 lead into the break. Kell scored his second unassisted goal of the game to knot the game at 4, followed 13 seconds later by an unassisted strike by Fetterly to momentarily steal Penn State’s momentum going into halftime. The Nittany Lions stormed out of the break with three straight scores to build a 7-5 lead.
“That momentum went away pretty quickly,” said Cannella.
Tim McCormack collected 13 saves for his fifth straight performance of 10 saves of more. The senior has yet to allow double-digit goals in an affair as well, posting a 6.83 goals-against average per game. McCormack stoned five shots in the fourth quarter (allowing just one goal) and stopped four shots in the second quarter to hold off the Nittany Lion attack.
On the other side, Kaut collected 10 saves in the losing effort.
“It was a hard-fought game, well defended on both sides [and] really good goalie play on both sides as well,” said Cannella.
UMass has its longest break of the season (10 days) before getting back to work at Harvard on March 27 for a Tuesday night game.
Stephen Sellner can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Sellner.