Scrolling Headlines:

: Nineteen turnovers sink UMass men’s basketball in loss to Fordham Saturday -

January 21, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls to Fordham behind strong defensive effort by the Rams -

January 21, 2017

UMass hockey can’t take advantage of strong start in 6-1 loss to Boston College -

January 21, 2017

High-powered Eagles soar past UMass -

January 21, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure at Mullins Center Thursday -

January 19, 2017

REPORT: Tom Masella out as defensive coordinator for UMass football -

January 19, 2017

Zach Lewis, bench carry UMass men’s basketball in win over St. Joe’s -

January 19, 2017

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse embraces underdog role entering 2014

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

It’s been a while since the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has been an afterthought in the Colonial Athletic Conference and the NCAA.

But coming off their first losing season since 2008, the Minutemen enter 2014 unranked in the NCAA national rankings, and predicted to finished fourth in the CAA preseason coaches poll.

The departures of Kyle Smith and Will Manny, the team’s top two scorers from a season ago, don’t help the cause either.

“This is the first time in a long time we’re going to be the underdog in almost every game we play,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella, who is returning for his 20th season in Amherst. “But sometimes the underdog role is a good place to be in.”

In fact, the underdog role is something the Minutemen embrace. And with their sights set on bouncing back from a disappointing season, preseason polls are the least of their concerns.

“We don’t really care where the media puts us,” face-off specialist and midfielder Joe Calvello said. “All that matters is what we do on the field. Whether it’s in practice or in games, what’s going to matter is how we play this season.”

Calvello is one of three Minutemen selected to the preseason all-conference team. Although the midfielder only accounted for three points all of last season, it was his impressive 58 percent success rate in face-offs that has opened eyes around the conference.

Also returning back for UMass are attackmen Grant Whiteway and Connor Mooney. Both players reached the 20-goal mark last season – Whiteway netted 26 goals and six assists, while Mooney scored 22 to go along with his seven assists.

Mooney and redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Zach Oliveri joined Calvello on the CAA preseason all-conference team. Oliveri recorded 157 saves last season, posting a .559 save percentage and allowing just 8.63 goals per game.

“Joe’s awesome in the face-off game; Connor’s an excellent player – he can really play anywhere for us, attack, midfield – he’s done a good job defensively as well,” Cannella said. “It’s Zach’s third year now, and you hope that with all his time and effort he continues to be more consistent.”

The Minutemen welcome in 15 freshmen this season. Grant Consoletti and Nick Mariano are two attackers that have caught the attention of both coaches and other players and are expected to play a big role in the offensive game. But with only five seniors and 26 underclassmen, the returning veterans know just how hard it is to make the jump to Division I lacrosse.

“We are a really tight knit group,” Mooney said. “We do a lot of stuff as a team and the younger guys have done an excellent job of buying into what the older guys have been preaching to them. We want everyone on the team to feel like they have their own role in our success.”

Returning back to the midfield are Ryan Izzo and Matt Whippen. After tearing his ACL earlier in his career, Izzo has emerged as one of the top short stick defensive midfielders in the CAA.

“(The upperclassmen) have done an excellent job of making sure everyone else is involved, making sure everyone’s together,” Cannella said. “When someone falls out you have to have someone right there to bring them back in and these guys have done an excellent job of that.”

At the beginning of each season the team sets goals about where they envision themselves in May. While the Minutemen always set the bar high for themselves, they are more interested in the work it’s going to take to get there.

“We are buying into our values, toughness and a blue collar mentality,” Calvello said. “If you buy into those you are going to be successful. We are going to find success at the end of the year but more importantly it’s about the process and what we do to get there.”

UMass opens up its season Feb. 9 at Army.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at arcyr@umass.edu, and can be followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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