The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team will face another familiar Ivy League opponent this weekend.
Last week it was Harvard. This week it’s Brown.
The 2013 seniors entered last Saturday’s 8-6 win with a losing record against the Crimson. However, they enter their match up with the Bears undefeated in their careers.
Last Saturday, the No. 5 Minutemen (3-0) had to rely on their defense to win against Harvard. This weekend, UMass coach Greg Cannella hopes that won’t be the case.
“You don’t want to play as much defense as you played on Saturday against Harvard, because eventually it will catch up to you,” Cannella said. “Any time you can put forth a defensive effort like that you know you’re happy about it, but you know the next game is a different situation for sure.”
While the Minutemen were locked in a close defensive battle last weekend, Brown (0-1) was in one of its own. Unlike UMass, the Bears came out on the losing side of things in a 9-7 loss against Quinnipiac.
Cannella said he saw a team that was “snake-bitten” in its loss to the Bobcats and he expects them to come out“fired up and ready to go.”
Unlike the Crimson, Brown returns most of its players this season, including its second and third leading scorers from last season – Sam Hurster (31 goals, 39 points) and Nick Piroll (23 goals, 30 points), respectively.
Hurster scored two goals and an assist while Piroll had a goal and an assist during the Bears loss to Quinnipiac.
UMass defenseman Jake Smith said that the Minutemen had a good game plan defensively against Harvard and that they will need to apply that and also make some changes against the Bears.
“We have some core principles that we always keep the same, we like to play in an aggressive way every game,” Smith said. “The specific game plan around their sets and man-ups, just more specific things that will change week-to-week.”
The Bears also return last year’s starting goalkeeper, junior Will Round, although he didn’t play in their season opener. Round started all 15 games for Brown last season and posted a 9.03 goals against average and .530 save percentage.
Getting the start in goal last weekend was Wills Curley. He played the first half before being replaced by Jack Kelly at the start of the second half.
“They’re a great transition team, they are an aggressive group on both sides of the ball,” Cannella said of Brown. “This is a group that has a lot of experience coming back. You like the way they play, they push everything from defense to offense to try to get the quick goals.”
As for his own team, Cannella said he had no news on the statuses of injured players Will Manny, Colin Fleming or James Fahey.
He did say that he is looking for consistency from the players who have to play in their absence.
Smith reiterated those sentiments.
“It’s been a good opportunity for a lot of the young guys to step in and kind of establish their roles,” Smith said, “but I think teams will change throughout the year with guys coming back.”
As for the read he has on the team with all the injuries its had to endure, Smith said,“I don’t think we’ll kind of fully have our identity till maybe a few more games a little later in the season.”
Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at Garber Field.
Cameron McDonough can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.