Lost to Georgetown first ECAC blemish for UMass

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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Massachusetts goalkeeper Doc Schneider wasn’t the only one to get hit right where it counts in Saturday’s conference tilt against rival Georgetown.

The Minutemen briefly lost their star goalie to an unpleasant injury before faltering down the stretch in a 10-7 loss to the Hoyas that ‘- at least temporarily ‘- cost UMass first place in the standings.

‘I think every game is a character test, regardless of if you win or lose,’ said UMass coach Greg Cannella following the loss at Garber Field. ‘I tell our guys not to prepare any differently for certain games and hopefully they don’t, and hopefully they bounce back and play well [Tuesday at Fairfield].’

Despite currently being in second place in the Eastern College Athletic Conference, No. 12 UMass (7-4, 4-1 ECAC) can clinch the league title and automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with wins over Fairfield and Rutgers (May 2). First-place Loyola, which fell to the Minutemen on March 21, needs a win in its finale over Hobart and one UMass loss to claim the championship.

A victory over Georgetown (6-6, 2-3 ECAC) would have allowed the Minutemen to shore up the league by winning just one ‘- or possibly even zero ‘- of its two remaining conference games. But the Hoyas ruined UMass’ Senior Day, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead that the Minutemen ultimately couldn’t overcome.

‘They had better composure than us on the offensive end. It just didn’t go our way,’ Cannella said. ‘We were sloppy early. Every time we made a mistake ‘- as a good team that they are ‘- they pounced on us. [I’m] disappointed.’

Led by its goalkeeper, UMass eventually overcame the struggles and battled back to a 6-6 tie early in the fourth quarter. The Minutemen seemed to get an emotional lift when Schneider ‘- who was hit in the groin with a shot and lay on the ground in pain for a few minutes ‘- returned to the field after missing 23 seconds of game time.

UMass scored the game’s next four goals to tie it but the Hoyas scored the next three late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.

‘Doc is obviously an emotional leader for our team,’ Cannella said. ‘He got it in a spot where it hurts, so he had to come out of the game. He didn’t want to come out, but he had to because if you stop play, you have to. Anytime he’s in there it boosts our energy.’

After regaining the momentum to tie the score, UMass quickly lost it again. Hoyas’ goalkeeper Jack Davis (14 saves) made several key stops and Scott Kocis put his team up for good with his third goal of the game with 7 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the contest.

Andrew Brancaccio and Ricky Mirabito added insurance goals to seal the victory.

‘It’s a good win. This team has worked hard all year and we’ve had some real close losses and we’ve had a season that hasn’t gone quite like we’re used to,’ Georgetown coach Dave Urick said. ‘For now, we’ll savor this one.’

The Hoyas, which were ranked No. 7 in the preseason coaches’ poll, had struggled this season in close, late-game situations. But a dominant fourth quarter put an end to that. After UMass’ Evan Blum tied the score on a shot from a nearly impossible angle at the 12:48 mark, Georgetown regrouped and forced turnovers, got nearly every ground ball and peppered Schneider (18 saves) with shots to ensure the victory.

‘I told them at halftime that [UMass] was going to have a run in them, and we have to be able to absorb it. And sure enough, they did,’ Urick said. ‘That first goal we got in the fourth quarter was big and we were able to build on that.’

Jim Connolly, Tim Balise and Evan Blum all scored two goals for the Minutemen, while Bobby Hayes added one. Jake Samperton also had a hat trick for Georgetown, which jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first quarter. UMass hadn’t allowed more than two goals in the first quarter in any game this season.

‘Maybe not focusing as much as on the task at hand,’ said Cannella, regarding the slow start on Senior Day. ‘It’s a tough one. It’s an emotional one for a lot of guys, emotional for me as well.’

Game notes

UMass dropped from No. 12 to No. 15 in the media poll, which was released on Monday. Georgetown, which was one spot out of the Top 20, moved up to No. 16 in the new poll. ‘hellip; The Minutemen scored their final goal (Blum) with 13 seconds remaining in the game. Michael Shotwell added one for the Hoyas with two seconds
left. ‘hellip; UMass lost the battle in shots (47-35), ground balls (37-26) and faceoffs (13-7). Georgetown leads the all-time series, 7-3.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]