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May 13, 2017

UMass lacrosse preps for high-scoring Albany following defensive success

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian

Two Thompsons proved to be too much for Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team in last year’s 15-9 road loss against Albany. This time, they will have to deal with three.

Senior attack Miles Thompson will face No. 10 UMass (4-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. after missing last year’s game with a thumb injury. He will play alongside his brother Lyle, a junior attack, and cousin Ty. Miles (13 goals) and Lyle (12 assists) lead the No. 17 Great Danes (1-2) in scoring with 18 points each. Ty, a senior attack, has seven points, all of which are goals.

“Those three guys will be the best three that we face all year as a group,” Minutemen coach Greg Cannella said. “Lyle is, in my opinion, by far the best attackman in the country right now. Miles and Ty are fantastic players as well, and they play very well together.”

Cannella added that all three players are multi-dimensional and pose threats in terms of scoring and passing because they can generate offense from anywhere on the field.

UMass is coming off a 15-2 defensive gem against Brown, led partly by the shut-down defense of James Fahey. The senior also missed last year’s Albany slant due to a concussion, but that didn’t stop him from learning UMass’ lessons in defeat.

Fahey cited errors in clearing the ball, poor transition and untimely turnovers as reasons that led to the loss. He added that the Thompsons would capitalize on those mistakes if they happen again, but so will the underrated midfield.

“Their midfield is a great athletic group,” Fahey said. “They’re very diverse with age, diverse with speed and that’s the thing – we can’t just focus on the Thompsons.”

Senior attack and midfielder Connor Mooney scored twice against the Great Danes last year. He noted that the Minutemen’s senior class is looking to even up the series record, which they trail 1-2.

Mooney, who has seven points this season, is motivated to match Albany’s offensive talent, saying that his team needs to value possessions and finish the ball. The mental side of preparation is equally important for the scorer, who emphasized the need to respect, but not fear, his opposition.

“Last year, we kind of – which is really uncharacteristic – gave up a little bit once we got down a few goals,” Mooney said of the loss to Albany. “It’s tough to come back. This year, we’ll have a different mindset about the game. We’ll focus up and concentrate.”

Mooney’s assurance comes from the aggressive offensive style that UMass has shown through four games. He said that the team’s strong points are dodging hard to the net to score as well as overall unselfishness.

“I think we’ve found some really talented guys in the past few years,” Mooney said. “This year, on the offensive end especially, we’re very young and it’s good to see guys step up and play roles with confidence.”

Cannella mentioned that another point of interest in the upcoming game is Great Danes goaltender Blaze Riorden, who improves his game by practicing saves against his Thompson teammates. The sophomore also plays man-up as needed.

“When these two teams get together, it’s always pretty exciting,” Cannella said. “I don’t know what the deciding factor will be. I expect it to be a close game. I hope it’s a close game because that means we’re in it.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at pcappiel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @petecapps.

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