Minutemen win first ever CAA game, upset No. 6 Hofstra

By Mike Gillmeister

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Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella got solid production from all over the field as the No.18 Minutemen knocked off No.6 Hofstra, 11-9, Saturday afternoon.

UMass (6-2, 1-0 CAA) broke open their first game in the Colonial Athletic Association with attackman Art Kell’s fourth hat trick of the season, giving him a team-high 21 goals.

Freshman Will Manny also had a solid game, contributing four points on three assists and one goal.

UMass coach Greg Cannella noted the Pride (4-2, 0-1 CAA) had an altered lineup because of injuries, but the win was still a confidence-booster for the Minutemen.

“It was a good win, our guys came ready to play,” said Cannella. “Hofstra had a couple of injuries that really hurt them, but again, we persevered, we got a lead and we knew they were going to come back on us, and they’re such a good team that we figured they would, and they did.”

Stout defense at midfield also aided UMass. Sophomore Anthony Biscardi grabbed a ground ball and had two scores in the match. Junior Stephen Zorkers also pestered the Hofstra offense, grabbing three ground balls and causing a turnover.

The Minutemen caused seven turnovers on the day, including two by defenseman Casey Rahn, who also had five ground balls – both game-highs.

Sophomore goalie Tim McCormack made 12 saves in a game where the Pride peppered the UMass defense with a 41-27 shot advantage, including 25 in the second half.

Hofstra looked as if it had a greater sense of urgency in the second half, but the Minutemen jumped on the Pride early and often, scoring five goals in the third quarter after taking a 5-2 lead into half time.

Even though UMass didn’t win the game by a decisive 14-goal margin as it did in its last game against then-winless Providence, Cannella looked for the victory and nothing more.

“They’re sticking together, they don’t want to make a statement, but they want to make sure they do this right, and not blow their opportunities that they have,” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity they have, playing the No. 6 team in the country at home; again, I think they really stood together and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to make the difference today, not the other team.’”

Midfielder Ryan Hantverk scored the first goal of the day seconds into the game after a successful clear, putting the unassisted shot past Hofstra goalie Rob Bellairs (four saves).

After the Pride answered with a goal of their own, the two teams traded goals a second time before the Minutemen went on their second quarter surge.

Both of Biscardi’s goals came in this span, along with scores from midfielder Bobby Hayes and attackmen Christian Hain and Colin Fleming.

The Pride started the third quarter with two man-up goals stemming from penalties by Rahn and fellow defenseman Diogo Godoi.

When both players returned to the field, attackman Ryan Liebel scored his ninth goal of the season on an assist by Hain, followed by Kell’s second and third goals to make it 9-4 in favor of the Minutemen.

Hofstra scored on McCormack three more times before Manny scored to close the quarter.

The Pride scored the only two goals of the fourth quarter, but by then, UMass’ lead was too large.

Although the win was an impressive one as far as rankings go, Cannella won’t let it negatively affect his team as the Minutemen prepare for an away game at Penn State on Friday at noon.

“It doesn’t feel any different than any other game that I’ve played in or I’ve coached,” Cannella said. “We try to approach every game, whether league or non-league, the same.”

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at [email protected].edu.