Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass stuns Hobart in Overtime

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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P.J. Stanley / Collegian

Playing for a full 60 minutes has been a struggle at times this season for the No. 14 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team.

The Minutemen needed every one of those minutes ‘- and 3,600 seconds ‘- Saturday afternoon, to score a miraculous last-second goal to force overtime against conference-rival Hobart.

UMass needed just 23 seconds in overtime to complete the comeback in a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Statesmen in Geneva, N.Y.

‘It was a very exciting end ‘- one of the most exciting to any game that I’ve ever been associated with,’ said UMass coach Greg Cannella, who is in his 15th year leading the Minutemen.

It was another hard-fought game for UMass (7-3, 4-0 Eastern College Athletic Conference), which has seen many games come down to the final minute this season. And once again, it was UMass’ senior stars that made it happen.

The first hero was senior attack Tim Balise. He sent the game into overtime with an acrobatic shot that beat Hobart star goalkeeper Max Silberlicht with less than one second remaining in regulation.

‘[Tim] had two guys draped all over him, he got knocked down to his knees, and he shot the ball one-handed and it went in ‘- an unbelievable individual effort,’ Cannella said.

The goal almost didn’t count. As the Minutemen celebrated on the field, Hobart contested that the shot went in after the final buzzer sounded. But the officials originally signaled it as a goal and didn’t change their minds.

‘Anything can happen in those situations; obviously it’s the referee’s call,’ Cannella said. ‘Initially when the ball went in he made the call that it counted, so I was confident that the goal would stick.’

Just 23 seconds of game time later, Jim Connolly became the hero. The senior’s first goal of the game ‘- 26th of the season ‘- was his second late game-winner of the year and gave the Minutemen their fourth consecutive victory to stay undefeated in the ECAC.

The game-winner came almost immediately after Joe Reale won the faceoff battle against Hobart‘s Nunzio Doldo. Reale dropped the ball and midfielder Stephen Zorkers picked it up and raced down the field, taking a shot. Silberlicht stopped it, but Connolly corralled the rebound and put it in the back of the net.

Neither Connolly nor Balise could have been the hero without UMass senior goalkeeper Doc Schneider out-dueling Silberlicht. The Hobart stopper made a career-high 18 saves, but Schneider did even better, stopping 21 shots in the victory.

Cannella credited Schneider and the defense in keeping the Minutemen in the game, especially after they stumbled in the first 15 minutes.‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

‘Doc was great all day. First quarter, we were awful. We didn’t clear the ball well at all and we didn’t have any offensive possessions. Doc really kept us in the game,’ Cannella said.‘It was just another really strong performance for 60 minutes from him.’

UMass wasn’t alone in its early struggles. Hobart (5-5, 1-4 ECAC) couldn’t get anything going offensively in the first half either and UMass went into halftime with a 2-1 lead. Both teams had more luck in the second half, with the Statesmen eventually taking the lead for the first time at 6-5 with 4 minutes, 59 seconds remaining.

After UMass’ Rory Pedrick missed two shots in the final minute ‘- giving the Statesmen the ball with less than 30 seconds to go ‘- it appeared that Hobart would hold on for the win.

But senior defender Diogo Godoi gave the Minutemen one last chance ‘- with a vicious hit on Hobart‘s Alex Caton that jarred the ball loose. UMass rushed down the field and Balise’s shot tied the game in the final second.

It was his third goal of the game and 21st of the season. Connolly, Art Kell, Ryan Marcus and Will Jeffery all added one for UMass. Jeff Colburn and Chris Pederson each had two to lead the Statesmen.

Cannella believes his team can learn a lot from the victory.

‘It was a hard-fought game ‘- we’ve been in a bunch of those already,’ Cannella said. ‘But when you have the ability to come back in the situation that we were in and pull it out, when I didn’t think we really good one offense all day ‘- that gives the team a lot of confidence.’

Game notes

UMass moved up to No. 12 in the media poll, which was released on Monday. ‘hellip; Schneider was awarded with his fifth ECAC Defensive Player of the Week Award on Monday. ‘hellip; Jeffery’s goal was the first of his career.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]

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