Dynamic offense in a mini-slump at wrong time

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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For a team that averages over nine goals per game, it’s hard to say that the offense is struggling.

But for the No. 15 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team, that’s just what happened against No. 1 Syracuse last weekend in its 10-3 loss.

‘This game is about opportunities. We had opportunities, we didn’t finish them. And when you play a team like Syracuse, you have to,’ UMass coach Greg Cannella said after the game. ‘I’m not sure we shot the ball very well [Saturday], but [SU goalkeeper] John Galloway hung in there and made great saves.’

With point producers like Jim Connolly (32 goals, five assists) and Tim Balise (25 goals, five assists), the Minutemen shouldn’t have a problem scoring goals, but against top goalkeepers it’s important to take high-quality shots and move the ball around on offense.

‘Not how we wanted to come out, obviously. The defense played well but offensively we didn’t execute what we wanted to do,’ Rory Pedrick said after Saturday’s game. ‘I think we all kind of forced it at times and they caused turnovers and they went down on offense and kind of took over the game.’

UMass (8-5, 5-1 Eastern College Athletic Conference) is second in the ECAC with goals per game (9.62), just behind Loyola (10.46). The Minutemen’s lack of offensive movement is shown with their average number of assists per game (4.08), which is last in the ECAC.

‘I think most of all to work for better quality shots on offense; don’t try to force it as much. I think that will really be the key [on Saturday],’ Pedrick said on what UMass must improve on in its season-finale against Rutgers on Saturday.

Playoff game

Loyola kept its playoff chances alive with a 16-7 win over Hobart last weekend. Loyola advanced to 6-1 in the ECAC, while the Minutemen are 5-1. Because UMass holds the tiebreaker over Loyola, a win against Rutgers (4-10, 2-4 ECAC) on Saturday will give the Minutemen first place in the ECAC and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

‘Rutgers is like a playoff game now and we should go in with a little edge and be a little pissed off about [Saturday’s game against Syracuse] and hopefully we channel that positively,’ said Doc Schneider.

Record-setting crowd

A record-setting 13,722 fans witnessed the UMass-Syracuse game on Saturday at McGuirk Stadium. This broke the record previously set on May 6, 1989 when 12,143 people attended the Syracuse-UMass matchup.

‘That was unbelievable, it was great to see everybody come out and support us. It feels really good to have a lot of fans [at the game],’ Tim Balise said.

Future star

Cody Jamieson, a transfer to Syracuse from Onondaga Community College, played in his first game for the Orange last weekend against UMass. He didn’t see much playing time until late in the game, but he did score what would have been Syracuse‘s 11th goal, if it hadn’t been disallowed for a crease violation.

‘We were so focused on the game, we weren’t really thinking about substituting,’ Syracuse coach John Desko said. ‘I looked up and thought it would be a good time to get Cody in and get his feet wet.’

Jamieson is expected to be one of the elite players in the nation next season. Last season he played with the Six Nations Arrows, a Junior ‘A’ League team. He led the league in points (101) with 59 goals in 21 games.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]