Minutemen earn first road win of young season

By Jay Asser

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

By Jay Asser
Collegian Staff

A second-half surge by the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team earned the team its first road win of the season over Hartford, 14-10, on Saturday at Al-Marzook Field.

The No. 16-ranked Minutemen (2-0) received four goals from sophomore attacker Will Manny and six assists from junior attacker Art Kell in the final 30 minutes to outscore the Hawks (0-1) 9-3 in the second half.

UMass coach Greg Cannella was pleased with the confidence of his squad at the intermission, despite trailing 7-5.

“You hope they have swagger, you hope they have confidence in each other,” Cannella said after the victory to UMass media relations. “That’s really the key. The guys at halftime today looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, let’s get the job done, let’s work hard, let’s get the ground balls, let’s do all the small things that are going to help us come out on top.’”

The Minutemen came out of the gates strong to open the third quarter. Following three scores (two by UMass, one for Hartford), Manny knotted the contest at eight apiece on a feed from Kell. Senior midfielder Ryan Hantverk then put the Minutemen ahead for good at 9-8, followed by consecutive goals from Manny to increase UMass’ lead to three scores heading into the final period.

The Hawks received two goals from Carter Bender and Aidan Genik in the first half of the fourth quarter to pull within two. Manny and junior midfielder Anthony Biscardi, however, put the contest out of reach with the final two goals of the game to give the Minutemen the 14-10 win.

While UMass claimed its first road tilt of the year, it was not without adversity. Throughout the contest, the Minutemen had to deal with strong winds, which was a factor in the play.

“It’s more of a factor in terms of communication,” Cannella said. “I think our guys are OK playing in it because we play in cold, windy practices all preseason here. But communication between the coaches and the players is very difficult.”

While practices in the preseason have been anything but pleasant, Kell found it funny that the practices at Garber Field leading up to Saturday’s game were significantly warmer. That, however, changed quickly when UMass traveled to Connecticut.

“Then we come down, the wind is blowing, which made it a lot worse, it was snowing a little bit,” Kell said. “It was the first game on the road and we had to overcome the crowd, we had to overcome the weather, not to mention Hartford was a great team.”

Kell finished with eight total assists in the victory, the most by a Minutemen player since Sean Morris had eight points in the season opener against Hofstra in 2006. The attackmen also tallied two goals, adding to his lone score in the season opener vs. then-No. 12 Army.

Last year, Kell suffered an injury which limited him to eight games. Still, the Westford, Mass. native notched 21 goals and 12 assists for 33 points, good for fourth-best on the team. This season, Kell, along with his teammates, are out to prove that they are one of the best teams in the nation.

“Last year, I got hurt, the team kind of teetered off,” Kell said. “This year, we’re on a mission this year. We have a really good team, we’re a real close team and we’re really excited to have something special happen this year.”

After two wins to begin the year, UMass returns to the field on Saturday when it takes on Ohio State at Garber Field.

Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected]