Kell’s loss felt against Towson, Manny stepping up

By Mike Gillmeister

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Attackman Art Kell missed two games and still leads the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team with 21 goals. That’s how much offense UMass lacks without Kell on the field.

Since Kell went down with what is presumed to be a season-ending leg injury, the No. 7 Minutemen (7-3, 2-1 Colonial Athletic Association) are 1-1. UMass’ average margin of victory is nearly four goals this season and without Kell on the field, the Minutemen won and lost two games decided by two and one goal, respectively.

UMass coach Greg Cannella feels that Kell had so much of an impact on offensive schemes that he’ll have to re-work his game strategy entirely.

“It changes everything,” Cannella said of UMass’ game plan without Kell. “He’s getting [opposing team’s best defenders] so now that all bumps down. We’ve played two weeks without him and we still have to adjust.”

Freshman Will Manny now starts in place of Kell, but that isn’t a major change for Manny, who gets a lot of regular minutes anyway.

In two games as a starter, Manny has five goals and two assists.

Manny’s elusiveness, as well as his speed, gives Cannella another legitimate scoring threat, but Manny also exhibits patience and good field-vision. Manny could frequently be seen behind the Towson net, setting up the offense and looking for scoring opportunities instead of bull-rushing the net like a bigger attacker could do.

Another thing about Manny taking the place of Kell is the matchup shift. The 5-foot-7 Manny often drew multiple defenders throughout the game.

Cannella looks for players like Manny to increase their already solid offensive contributions to make up for the loss of Kell’s tallies on the scoreboard.

Kell’s absence puts added pressure on the defense as well. Kell’s ability to take over games and put opposing victories out of reach was a big benefit to an already strong defense led by All-American Diogo Godoi.

The Minutemen are 1-3 in one-goal games this season and in close games, it’s crucial that the defense doesn’t break down.

“All three of our losses have been one-goal games,” said Cannella. “I’ve always said that you can be disappointed, but you can’t be discouraged. You have to move on.”

The physicality of the CAA also puts UMass at a disadvantage without Kell because his scoring compensates for the conference-worst 23 goals given up by the Minutemen on the penalty kill.

UMass went 1-for-3 on the penalty kill against Towson (4-5, 1-1 A-10), which has 14 goals on the man-advantage.

The Tigers capitalized on an illegal body-check penalty on defender Casey Rahn late in the first half that carried over to the second half. Godoi left the field twice for the same penalty.

The lone man-up goal for UMass came in a first half that saw no Towson turnovers.

In comparison, the Tigers forced six turnovers before halftime, three of which resulted in scores.

Towson had the edge on loose balls as well, picking up 26 ground balls to the Minutemen’s 22, including a 13-9 advantage in the first half.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at [email protected]