UMass men’s lacrosse earns second CAA victory of the season with win over Fairfield
The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team shined as much as the sun was during its 12-8 home victory over Fairfield on a picturesque spring day at Garber Field Saturday.
“That was a much needed win for us and there’s really nothing better than a nice spring day on Garber,” defenseman Isaac Paparo said. “People on the hill, we’re all in white, just an awesome win, for 60 minutes. That was awesome, it really was.”
UMass (5-6, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) broke its recent trend of falling behind early by jumping out to a 4-1 lead over the Stags (3-9, 0-3 CAA) after the first quarter.
The Minutemen offense spread the ball around early with Dan Muller, Jeff Trainor, Tyler Bogart and Dom St. Laurent all scoring in the opening frame.
“We talked all week how we kind of need to get off to a good start, and that’s not our M.O., coming back was our M.O.,” UMass Cannella said. “So being back on Garber Field, getting off to a good start, playing with a lot of intensity was kind of what our charge was, and then fortunately for us that was what happened in the first half.”
The Minutemen continued to find the back of the cage early into the second as Buddy Carr and Ben Spencer added goals in the first five minutes of the frame.
After a pair of Fairfield goals Bogart scored his second goal of the game with just over a minute left in the quarter to bring the score to 7-4 UMass at halftime.
Bogart opened the third quarter with a goal to complete his hat trick and bring his season total to 23 goals and Trainor added his second goal of the game a few minutes later.
The story of the third quarter though was the UMass defense holding the Stags without a goal thanks to the play of goalkeeper D.J. Smith, who tallied four of his 13 saves during the quarter.
“I thought in the third quarter he made two or three saves that probably turned the game in our favor, where we could push the lead a little bit and play more relaxed behind him,” Cannella said.
Smith’s 13 saves on 21 shots was good for a save percentage of .619, a new season-high for the senior goalie.
Paparo was also a key contributor on defense as he was given the task of shutting down Fairfield’s leading scorer Colin Burke.
Entering the game averaging just under two goals a game, Burke tallied one goal and assist, leading Fairfield to record its second-lowest goal total in the past seven games.
“He’s a real talented player,” Paparo said. “[We] definitely limited him a lot which kind of held their whole offense down.”
The fact that Paparo was able to execute the game plan was no surprise to Cannella.
“Isaac’s intense, man,” Cannella said. “You give him a chore, you give him a job, and Isaac’s going to complete it. He was exceptional. He had a lot of help today, obviously D.J. was really good as well, but I think Isaac’s been consistent all year. He’s the hardest worker we have.”
Paparo even got into the game offensively when he took the ball the length of the field and buried a shot for his first goal of the season to open the scoring in the fourth quarter.
Less than a minute later, freshman Jesse Leung scored his first of two fourth quarter goals. The Stags found life in the final frame and scored four goals, the only quarter in which the Minutemen were outscored.
“The way the game finished out, you don’t want it to finish that way, you want to finish a little tighter than that,” Cannella said.
UMass can clinch a spot in the CAA tournament with a win when it travels to Hofstra on Saturday.
Bogart celebrated his 21st birthday the day after Saturday’s win and couldn’t think of a better birthday present than a CAA victory.
“Not that I can think of, no. This one’s pretty big, I’m excited,” Bogart said.
Jamie Cushman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and followed on Twitter @Jamie__Cushman.