UMass, Hobart, elite goalkeepers clash in ECAC tilt

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

It’s only fitting that the last-ever ECAC meeting between Massachusetts and Hobart features two of the elite goalkeepers in the country.

UMass’ Doc Schneider and Hobart’s Max Silberlicht, who both rank among the Top 6 in the country in goals-against average and save percentage, will square off Saturday in Geneva, N.Y., in a key conference matchup for both teams.

The ECAC, which is known for having many of the best stoppers in the nation, will be without UMass next season as the Minutemen are moving over to the CAA. But for now, the No. 14 Minutemen (6-3, 3-0 ECAC) are concentrated on maintaining their perfect conference record and first-place standing.

But winning on the road in the talented ECAC is never easy, especially against one of the most improved players in the country in Silberlicht.

‘He’s lost a ton of weight. Obviously he had a great experience for two years playing there and with the under-19 [national] team last summer,’ UMass coach Greg Cannella said of the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hobart goalie. ‘He’s much more of a leader and much more confident in his other abilities.’

His leadership skills have been tested recently. After starting out the season 5-0, including a Top-15 ranking in the media poll, the Statesmen (5-4, 1-3 ECAC) have dropped four consecutive games ‘- including three losses in the conference by a combined five goals.

A one-goal loss to Rutgers and two-goal defeats against Fairfield and Penn State won’t make Cannella or the Minutemen take Hobart lightly.

‘Athletically ‘- on attack, midfield and defensively ‘- they’re as good as anybody we’ll play all year,’ Cannella said. ‘You look at their midfield group; all those guys played against us last year and have experience.’

In addition to worrying about Silberlicht and the defense, Canella and Co. must contend with a deep, balanced offense that has four players with at least 11 goals scored this season.

‘You got to try to contain all of them. It’s going to be a very difficult chore for us going into there on Saturday,’ Cannella said.

UMass, which leads the ECAC in goals per game at 10.7, only has two players with more than seven goals this season. But with conference-leader Jim Connolly (25 goals) and Tim Balise (18) leading the way, Silberlicht, much like Schneider, will have a difficult assignment.

Silberlicht’s goals-against average of 6.99 (5th in the country) and save percentage of 63.3 (4th) indicate he’s up for the challenge. The junior goalkeeper has completely turned around his career after opponents averaged 9.46 goals per game against him last season.

‘It makes him a lot quicker ‘- certainly gives him more energy,’ said Cannella on the effects of Silberlicht’s weight loss. ‘Good for him. I’m sure the experience that he had the last couple of years and over the summer really challenged him to get himself better and he has ‘- tremendously.’

Silberlicht was almost unbeatable earlier this season, allowing just two goals against Bucknell, four against Binghamton, five against Rutgers and six against Providence. But in the last three games ‘- all losses ‘- he’s allowed a total of 32 goals.

Despite Hobart‘s recent struggles, Cannella expects to see the best out of Silberlicht and the rest of the Statesmen.

‘We’ve played in some tight games with them over the years. With the amount of talent and athleticism that they have, it’s a formidable group,’ Cannella said. ‘It’s senior day for those guys, so I’m sure they’ll be pumped up to play us.’

Riding a three-game winning streak, UMass is excited heading into the matchup as well. But the Minutemen have struggled at times this season, too, something Cannella knows can happen at anytime to a team. He’s just not sure why it’s happened to a team as talented as Hobart.

‘I don’t know. Sometimes you go through it ‘- middle of the year we went through it for a week there, where guys get down.’

Game notes

Hobart and UMass have only one common opponent so far this season. The Minutemen defeated Penn State, 9-7, while the Statesmen dropped a 10-8
decision ‘hellip; UMass is 7-2 all-time vs. Hobart, including 3-1 in Geneva ‘hellip; The Minutemen won last year’s matchup, 8-7, in overtime.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]