Scrolling Headlines:

UMass football fall camp: Jackson Porter adapting well following switch to wide receiver -

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

UMass football fall camp: Minutemen look for Robert Kitching to anchor defensive line -

Monday, August 31, 2015

Closing arguments delivered in Adam Liccardi rape trial -

Monday, August 31, 2015

Early goals sink UMass men’s soccer in loss to Saint Peter’s -

Monday, August 31, 2015

UMass field hockey splits weekend matches with UNH and BU -

Sunday, August 30, 2015

UMass women’s soccer struck by injuries, struggles offensively as it falls to No. 24 Rutgers -

Sunday, August 30, 2015

UMass men’s soccer drops season opener to Utah Valley in overtime -

Friday, August 28, 2015

UMass football notebook: Jackson Porter moves to WR, UMass schedules 2016 game with South Carolina -

Friday, August 28, 2015

Former UMass student who accused four men of rape in 2012 testifies during trial Friday -

Friday, August 28, 2015

REPORT: UMass football’s Da’Sean Downey faces two assault charges in connection with February fight -

Thursday, August 27, 2015

UMass football Media Day: Catching up with Joe Colton -

Thursday, August 27, 2015

UMass football fall camp: Creating turnovers, forcing mistakes the focus for linebacking corps -

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Jurors hear police interview, read text messages by defendants in third UMass rape trial -

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

‘Living at UMass’ app aims to make move-in weekend a breeze -

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UMass rape trial halts abruptly, opening statements delivered Tuesday -

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UMass football fall camp: Jamal Wilson returns from injury with confidence he is ‘main guy’ at running back -

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

UMass football fall camp: Freshmen Sekai Lindsay, Andy Isabella impressing at running back -

Monday, August 24, 2015

UMass ranked in top 25 for LGBTQ students -

Monday, August 24, 2015

UMass football fall camp day five: Rodney Mills looks to continue bringing versatility to tight end position -

Friday, August 21, 2015

Route 9 Diner to reopen under new ownership -

Friday, August 21, 2015

UMass looks to younger players to fill roles

Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella has made it clear that certain players from last year’s roster simply can’t be replaced.

Cade Belisle/Collegian

The Minutemen (1-0) graduated 11 seniors last spring, and spent the entire preseason picking out less experienced players to fill those roles that had once been occupied by the likes of Art Kell, Anthony Biscardi and Tim McCormack.

Based on the results of UMass’ 16-9 win over Army in Sunday’s season opener at Garber Field, some of the younger players have already exceeded Cannella’s initial expectations.

The second midfield line – consisting of junior Matt Whippen, sophomore Andrew Sokol and freshman Dan Muller – scored more goals combined (10) than the entire Black Knights roster. The three players on that line contributed a combined zero goals for the Minutemen last season.

Keeping Army at bay was redshirt freshman goalkeeper Zachary Oliveri, who made seven saves in his first collegiate start. Oliveri took over as the starter when McCormack graduated after finishing last season with a 7.1 goals-against average and a 60.6 save percentage, which was good for second in the nation.

While Cannella is happy with what he’s seen so far from his younger players, he said it’s meaningless if it doesn’t happen on a consistent basis.

“You gotta see it over time, you gotta see a consistent effort,” Cannella said. “You gotta see it happen three or four or five times a couple games. You just can’t rely on going, ‘Hey, we’re all set ‘cause it’s one game.’ There has to be consistency, and if there’s not then we need to continue to get better.”

UMass is still trying to solidify some roles left by last year’s seniors. One spot is the third spot on the top attack line with Will Manny and Kyle Smith, previously held by Kell (33 goals, 20 assists). Sophomore Grant Whiteway started in that spot on Sunday and registered an assist, but Cannella is still looking for more depth at that position.

Cannella also wants to shore up the fourth and fifth defensemen behind Jake Smith, James Fahey and Ryan Hollenbaugh, something that is still up in the air.

“I think every team needs contributions from a lot of people,” Cannella said, “and it needs to be on a consistent basis for a lot of people for sure.”

The Minutemen also lost some key midfielders in Mike Fetterly and Steve D’Amario, who combined for 44 points. The midfielders accounted for 14 of UMass’ 16 goals, including four assists from senior Bobby Tyler.

Tyler said he was happy to see the younger players such as Sokol and Muller come up big with so many players gone from last year’s team, and credited it to their preparation. But he doesn’t think Cannella wants players to fill a specific role.

“(Cannella) doesn’t want anyone to fill anyone else’s roles,” Tyler said. “He wants them to play well as a team and bring their game to the table for the team.”

What’s missing from the midfield this year is the toughness that Biscardi and Greg Rushing brought to the team. Their physical play and crushing hits fueled the Minutemen at key moments last year, and was a big reason for the team’s success.

Cannella sees players trying to fill that role so far, but thinks it’ll be the type of presence that’ll simply develop over time.

“I think the younger guys are trying to grow into that,” he said. “Early in the season they’re still trying to figure out for themselves where they are on the field and get themselves confident enough to just go out there and play, and then all that other stuff will show up in my opinion.”

While UMass waits for the younger guys to continue to grow into their roles and become consistent contributors, the Minutemen will likely look to the eight seniors on the current roster to keep the veteran presence strong.

Manny and Smith are the top returning scorers from last season, and Manny is a preseason candidate for the Tewaaraton Award after a 77-point output last season. It’s the veteran players that’ll be relied on to ease the growing pains and put UMass in position for success despite the leaders lost from last year.

“As a senior, you have a sense of urgency to try to win every game,” Tyler said.

On the contrary, the veteran players are aware of the need for the younger players to make a big impact. And through just one game, they were satisfied with what they saw.

“It was great seeing the younger guys step up, especially since we lost so many seniors last year,” Tyler said.

Nick Canelas can be reached at ncanelas@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.

Leave A Comment