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October 18, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse sends seniors out with 14-8 win over Drexel

Ben Spencer (9) during Friday’s game against Drexel University. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team seniors were able to exit their final game at Garber Field victorious, defeating Drexel 14-8.

While both teams put 35 shots out, it was UMass (6-7, 3-2 Colonial Athletic Conference) that was able to find the back of the cage at a higher rate. Much of that can be attributed to the strong play in net by senior D.J. Smith, who finished the game with 15 saves.

One of the saves Smith made turned the tide of the game in the second quarter, as he made a kick save with his foot on what looked to be a sure goal for the Dragons (6-7, 3-2 CAA). The save pumped energy into the Minutemen, who rallied to score a season high six goals in the second quarter.

“I just read his hands,” Smith said. “He went high a couple times before that. I just dropped down low and got a piece of it.”

Smith had mixed emotions about playing his final game at Garber Field. After three years of working to get a shot at the starting spot in net, Smith has excelled in cage this year for UMass.

“It’s the most bittersweet feeling I’ve had in my life,” Smith said. “It’s awesome to win the senior night but knowing it’s the last game on Garber is a tough reality. I’m happy I have a couple more chances with the guys.”

Smith continued: “There’s nothing like playing on Garber Field. It’s easy to get in a zone there.”

Though this was a day for the seniors, it was a freshman who stole the show. Jesse Leung finished the game with a career-high five goals, including two goals in the second quarter. UMass coach Greg Cannella said that on senior nights, it usually takes a younger player making plays to help the seniors reel in the emotions.

“You hope they continue to grow. You want the guys playing their best lacrosse as seniors. Getting contributions from some of the younger guys helps the older guys relax. The older guys put a lot of pressure on themselves because this is senior night,” he said.

The win marks the Minutemen’s first senior night victory since 2013.

“We haven’t won it in couple years. It’s good to see. Anytime you win you’re satisfied. I’m happy for the seniors. They’ll remember that for the rest of their lives that they won their last game on Garber Field. They’ll come back and tell our future teams, ‘This is what we did our senior year, how about you guys?’” Cannella said.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at tjohnston@umass.edu and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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