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UMass boasts dominating performance on Senior Night over Drexel

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team trailed Drexel 3-1 with just over seven minutes remaining in the first quarter of Friday night’s regular season finale.

The Minutemen, who have failed to score more than nine goals in four of their last five games, then erupted for 13 goals over the next three quarters en route to scoring a season-high 14 goals in routing Drexel 14-8 on Senior Night at Garber Field.

“I’m just happy for the seniors,” Minutemen coach Greg Cannella said. “They’ll remember that for the rest of their lives.”

Of those 14 goals, UMass (6-7, 3-2 Colonial Athletic Association) scored a season-high eight in the first half, with three coming off the stick of freshman Jesse Leung. Leung started the game at attack in place of a hobbled Tyler Bogart, who was limited in the game but did score a goal.

“As a freshman in his first start he’s ever made, he came up big,” Cannella said. “His preparation is impeccable and that’s the reason why he’s successful on the field. It’s great to see and now he’ll be even more confident the next time out.”

Leung tallied scores in each quarter en route to a career-high five goals – the most by any Minuteman this season.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “You don’t want to take getting playing time for granted. It’s nice to just to be able to get on the field and when you get the opportunity you have to take advantage of it.”

UMass took advantage of the Dragons’ (6-7, 3-2 CAA) defensively, whose aggressive tactics often led to opportunities for the Minutemen once they were past the first line of defense. After trailing 3-2 at the end of the first quarter, UMass went on an 9-2 run over the course of the next two quarters. Drexel cut the Minutemen lead to 12-8 with a three-goal stretch in the fourth quarter before UMass pulled away with a pair of goals to close the game.

Senior goalkeeper D.J. Smith proved impressive in net, thwarting 15 Drexel shots. It was Smith’s ninth game this season with at least 10 or more saves.
“We’ve seen it all year from D.J.,” Cannella said. “In the third quarter he made two really, really good saves that kind of kept us moving forward.”

Perhaps the most exciting goal came from sophomore Ben Spencer. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound midfielder lowered his shoulder and stiff-armed a Dragon defender before blasting a shot past Drexel goalkeeper Jimmy Joe Granito. That goal, Spencer’s second of the game, gave the Minutemen a 13-8 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the game.

“We’ve been asking him to be a tough player,” Cannella said. “He made a tough play there, knocking the guy down and finishing the ball. Not a lot of guys on our team can do that. He’s one of them.”

Leung, Spencer and Dom St. Laurent (two goals) each added multi-goal games, while Jeff Trainor added three assists. Bogart, Gianni Bianchin, Grant Consoletti, Jake Lisauskas, Mike McDonough, Noah Rak and Devin Spencer recorded points.

Devin Spencer’s goal was the first of his career, while McDonough’s second-quarter tally was the first of his UMass career.

The Minutemen qualified for the CAA tournament prior to Friday’s triumph. UMass will be the No. 3 seed in the tournament, with a match-up against the No. 2 seed Hofstra at the site of No. 1 seed Towson in the CAA semifinal. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m. this Thursday. The Minutemen lost to Hofstra 15-8 just two weeks back on April 22.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at kdaluz@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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