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January 13, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks for revenge against Brown

Connor Mooney looks to close in on the goal during Monday’s 8-4 win over Harvard. (Alex Aritan/Daily Collegian)

Connor Mooney looks to close in on the goal during Saturday’s 8-4 win over Harvard. (Alex Aritan/Daily Collegian)

They say that history always finds a way of repeating itself.

Just one season ago, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team was 3-0 as it prepared to take on Brown. The Minutemen had wins over Army and Harvard, as well as an upset win over a nationally ranked team.
However, UMass (3-0) still feels as though it has unfinished business to deal with in a rematch with the Bears this Saturday in Providence.

“(This game) is going to be hard,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “If they spread the ball out like they did last year, it’s going to be hard. Last year, a bunch of different guys scored on us, so it’s going to be hard to stop. We only have one film on them, so they might do some things we aren’t prepared for. So we just have to stick to our principles.”

Brown (1-0) defeated the Minutemen 9-8 in overtime last season at Garber Field, after Daniel Mellynchuk put one past goalkeeper Zach Oliveri. Mellynchuk finished the game with a pair of goals, and attacker Kylor Bellistri finished with a hat trick.

The Bears opened up this season with a 13-6 win over Quinnipiac last Saturday. Brown had four players each score two goals, as well as freshman Dylan Molloy scoring four in his collegiate debut and Tim Jacob finishing with three. Molloy’s performance earned him Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors.

“Brown is a very good team that is very talented,” short-stick defenseman Ryan Izzo said. “We aren’t going to change the way we play. We have a great defensive package set up by our coaches – we are just going to go out, execute then and out-tough them up and down the field.”

The Minutemen have a freshman star of their own in Nick Mariano, who has scored nine goals throughout the first three games of the season. Cannella knows that with the emergence of Mariano, teams are going to start scheming defensively to try to shake UMass’ leading scorer out of his rhythm.

“Last year (Brown) prepared for guys like Connor Mooney, Matt Whippen and Grant Whiteway,” Cannella said. “Early in the season, a lot of teams base what they do off of last season and last year we didn’t have Mariano. They have three games of film to decide what he does well and how you can try to defend him.”

Mariano and company will have to face Brown goalkeeper Jack Kelly, who recorded 18 saves in the game against the Bobcats while allowing just six goals last Saturday.

Faceoff specialist Joe Calvello should have the advantage in that department, as the Bears were just 10-for-21 as a team in faceoffs in their season opener. Tommy Capone took the majority of the draws for Brown, winning nine of 18. Calvello has won 64.3 percent of the faceoffs he’s taken this year.

Oliveri will be heavily tested this weekend in the presence of the high-powered Brown offense. He has been solid for the Minutemen all season, recording a 6.53 goals against average.

“They’re very well coached,” Cannella said of Brown. “Defensively, they will be prepared for us. I’m sure they’ll try a bunch of different things on defense, especially some zone looks. They zoned Quinnipiac and they zoned us last year, so we have to be ready for that.”

The game is set to take place at 1 p.m. at Stevenson Field this Saturday.

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

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