UMass rolls over Yale

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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James Weliver/Collegian

There’s no ‘I’ in team, but all the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team needed against Yale was Jim Connolly.

Connolly 7, Bulldogs 6.

Behind a career-high seven tallies from the senior attack, the Minutemen bounced back from a heartbreaking last-second loss with a dominating 18-6 victory over Yale Saturday afternoon at Garber Field.

UMass (2-1) pounced on the Bulldogs (1-1) early and often, intent on avenging last weekend’s 11-10 loss to No. 13 Hofstra ‘- a game it never trailed until the Pride netted the game-winning goal with four seconds remaining.

‘Last week’s loss was pretty awful. To be up that many goals and then have them come storming back in the second half ‘- it was a tough one to swallow. But we were able to put it to these guys today,’ said Connolly referencing a 7-3 halftime lead against Hofstra.

UMass goalkeeper Doc Schneider, who was sensational in net making 14 saves, echoed Connolly’s sentiment.

‘I thought we needed to show what we were made of against a good Yale squad. In the first half against a great Hofstra team we saw how good we could actually be, and we were excited for a chance to get that loss out of [our system] and take it out on someone else,’ Schneider said.

Connolly wasn’t the only one taking last weekend’s frustration out on Yale and goalkeeper Andrew Brown. Seven other Minutemen scored at least once, led by Tim Balise’s four goals and Ryan Marcus’ two, en route to UMass’ highest-scoring output since scoring 18 in a win over Penn State on April 2, 2005.

But all anyone wanted to talk about after the game was Connolly, who helped lead UMass to the 2006 national championship game as a freshman, scored 51 goals over his first two years and was suspended all of last season for his alleged role in an off-campus incident.

‘No one was more upset than Jimmy only scoring one goal last week and losing that game, so I’m not surprised he came out with a performance like this. That’s kind of what he’s all about,’ UMass coach Greg Cannella said. ‘He’s been able to face a lot of challenges in his life ‘- obviously this one, coming back [to school and the team], playing pretty well. It says a lot about him.’

‘It’s great to see,’ added Schneider, who came to Amherst as a freshman with Connolly. ‘He’s worked his tail off when he wasn’t here to come back and this is the best he’s ever looked.’

Connolly wasn’t the only UMass player to look good in the first half, as the Minutemen jumped out to a 5-1 lead after the first quarter and had a 12-2 cushion heading into halftime. UMass scored on 50 percent of its 24 first-half shots, including a Connolly tally with .7 seconds left in the first half.

The defense in front of Schneider was terrific all game long, limiting star attackers Matt and Brendan Gibson to one goal apiece. After scoring its second goal with 10 minutes, 33 seconds left in the second quarter, Yale went 27:23 seconds of game time before scoring its third goal early in the fourth quarter. During that span, UMass increased its lead from 7-2 to 15-3.

Even when the Bulldogs broke through for a goal past Schneider, they paid the price for it. Just as Brendan Gibson scored with 51.1 seconds left in the game, UMass freshman midfielder Greg Rushing flattened him to the ground in the game’s biggest hit to cap off a physically dominating performance by the Minutemen.

UMass returns to action on Saturday, March 7 for a road tilt against No. 15 Harvard (2-0), which topped No. 5 Duke in the season-opener. The Minutemen have won 12 consecutive games against the Crimson in Cambridge, Mass., dating back to 1985.

Game notes

Connolly’s seven goals was one short of a single-game UMass record and marked the first time a Minuteman had at least seven goals since Jeff Zywicki had seven on March 18, 2003. ‘hellip; An 18-6 UMass win resulted in the Minutemen taking an 18-6 lead in the all-time series with the Bulldogs. ‘hellip; Saturday marked UMass’ largest margin of victory since a 16-4 win over Manhattan on April 9, 2004. ‘hellip; The Minutemen have scored 43 goals in three games this season ‘- their highest-scoring start to a season since 2001, when they scored 45. ‘hellip; UMass only held a 43-40 edge in shots, lost 40-29 in ground balls and 15-10 in face-offs. ‘hellip; UMass was 4-for-7 on the man-advantage. Yale was 0-for-3. ‘hellip; UMass (22) and Yale (23) combined for 45 turnovers. ‘hellip; Senior midfielder and captain Rory Pedrick sat out to rest an injured knee.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]