UMass men’s lacrosse plays complete game in win over Fairfield
Often this season, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has relied on its defense to stay in the game. That was not the case Saturday, as both UMass’ offense and defense were firing on all cylinders in its 12-8 victory over Fairfield.
When both sides of the ball are clicking, the Minutemen are a tough out for any opponent. With the defense consistently keeping teams around 10 or fewer goals, it is on the offense to produce. UMass (5-6, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) is 4-0 in games in which it scores 10 or more goals.
The Minutemen have often struggled out of the gate this season, having forced them to play from behind. UMass coach Greg Cannella was preaching a fast start all week at practice, and his team responded by racing out to a 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“[We had a] really good week of practice,” sophomore defensemen Isaac Paparo said when asked what went into the team’s fast start. “[We’re] pushing each other in every drill. You challenge each other all week then you come together on Saturday that’s where all that energy comes from.”
Tyler Bogart, who contributed to UMass’ hot start with a goal in Saturday’s opening quarter, also felt the win was a byproduct of a complete team effort.
“I think everything was clicking,” Bogart said. “At times we were playing fast and at others we were playing slow. We were playing smart today, making the right choices, the right looks and it paid off.”
The Minutemen offense received huge games from Bogart and Jeff Trainor. Bogart added his fourth hat trick of the season, giving him a team-high 23 goals on the year, while Trainor had a career-high five-point outing with two goals and three assists.
UMass kept the pressure on the Stags defense, finishing the game with 39 shots on cage. A majority of the shots and goals were generated off passes, showing the team has found chemistry among themselves.
“We fed the ball again,” Cannella said. “We’re a pretty good feeding team. Guys are working together and playing hard off the ball. We’re not a team that’s just going to blow by you one-on-one so you have to do things off the ball and guys have to have their heads up.”
After the Minutemen dominated Fairfield in the first period, the Stags defense began shaking things up, switching between man and zone. This gave the UMass offense some problems at first, but it adjusted and finished the second period with three goals. The seven goals in the first half were a season-high for the Minutemen.
“We needed to get off to a good start,” Cannella said. “At Garber Field, getting off to a good start, playing with a lot of intensity was what our charge was and fortunately for us that’s kind of what happened in the first half.”
While the UMass offense was the story in the first half, the second half was dominated by the defense, which didn’t allow a goal in the third period. Bogart and Trainor both added goals to extend the Minutemen lead to 9-4 heading into the final quarter of play.
UMass scored another three goals in the fourth to tie its season-high 12 goals on the day. Even Paparo, a long stick defenseman, got in on the scoring action, taking the ball end-to-end for a goal.
Thomas Johnston can be reached at email@example.com and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.