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May 4, 2017

Grant Whiteway’s seven goals propel UMass men’s lacrosse over Providence

UMass teammates Connor Mooney and Matt Whippen celebrate after a goal. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

UMass teammates Connor Mooney and Matt Whippen celebrate after a goal. (Nicole Evangelista/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts men’s lacrosse senior Connor Mooney flung a desperation shot through traffic from 15 yards out in the dying seconds of the first quarter. The buzzer to end the frame provided a soundtrack to his goal celebration. No. 14 UMass (5-1) led Providence, 6-2.

The tone was set.

UMass junior attack Grant Whiteway took advantage of the energy tilt and totaled seven goals in a 16-11 win over the Friars (3-3) on Tuesday at Garber Field. Whiteway had five goals heading into the game.

“Oh, that was awesome,” Whiteway said of Mooney’s score. “It’s always good when you get one of those goals right at the end of the quarter. It’s huge. It gives you momentum.”

Whiteway also said the win spoke to his team’s resiliency because it came two days after a 25-10 loss to Albany on Saturday.

He had four goals in the third quarter and opened up the game with two consecutive scores. Providence forced a 4-4 tie with a pair of goals 17 seconds apart, but Mooney took the lead at 10:29 in the first.

Friars midfielder Robert Sheehan and attack Sean Wright combined for two unanswered goals, which were the frame’s only scores.

Mooney stole momentum once again on an unassisted strike with 33 seconds left in the third quarter to put UMass ahead, 11-7. The goal completed his hat trick. PC posted four goals in an energized fourth quarter, but the Minutemen answered with five.

“I thought we came out with a lot of aggression, a lot of focus, which is what we needed,” Mooney said. “We were finishing our opportunities. Our defense played excellent, Joey (Calvello) was great at the faceoff X. Our fast start was great for us today.”

Calvello was 21-for-30 (70 percent) on face-offs.

Cannella called Mooney a “team guy” who often has the instinct to pass first with intent to help a teammate score. He applauded his player’s awareness on the field.

The coach also touted the high energy level of Whiteway.

“He seemed like he was ready to go,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “He’s been a little frustrated over the last few weeks here. It’s great to see a guy like that who works so hard really play well and get the opportunities and finish.”

The matchup was special for Cannella, in his 20th season, because he faced off against a former player in Providence coach Chris Gabrielli (UMass ’01), who is in his second season.

Cannella attributed sharing the ball – a common trend for his team as of late – and taking advantage of man-up opportunities to the win against Gabrielli’s squad.

“I hate playing a friend, especially someone like Gabs, because you don’t want to see him lose,” Cannella said.

He took a moment to reminisce as he pointed to an image of a younger Gabrielli wearing a No. 10 jersey on the Garber Field fence.

“You want to go undefeated, he wants to go undefeated, but we talked about it. We both needed a game at the time and it’s great to see him doing so well,” Cannella said.

Mooney was also competing against familiar faces. Senior defenseman Jak Wawrzyniak was his teammate at Avon Old Farms in Avon, Conn., and junior goaltender James Jurgens is a hometown friend from Wilbraham.

“They’re not too much friends when you’re playing against them,” Mooney affirmed.

UMass’ next game is against Penn State on Saturday at 12 p.m.

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

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