Minutemen go for 2nd straight win

By Herb Scribner

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

On Saturday at Al-Marzook Field in West Hartford, Conn., there will be two undefeated records on the line when the No. 16 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team takes on Hartford.

The Minutemen enter into this weekend’s affair with two undefeated records in their hands, the first being their season record of 1-0, which featured an 8-5 win against No. 12 Army, and the other being an 8-0 undefeated streak against the Hawks.

Traditionally, Hartford isn’t a strong team, but it has been making the climb in recent seasons as it was ranked third in a tough America East division, which includes top 10 teams Stony Brook and last season’s AE champ, Albany.

However, UMass coach Greg Cannella isn’t focused on how the Hawks are ranked, instead concerning himself with the mindset of his players.

“We don’t ever talk about the rankings because in the way the landscape of how college lacrosse is now … it doesn’t matter,” Cannella said. “If you’re not ready to play, you’re going to lose. The theme is we better be ready to play.”

With an 8-0 record against the Hawks, including last season’s 20-10 victory, Hartford won’t be looking to take it easy against the Maroon and White, especially after having its most successful season since 2003 with an AE Tournament appearance.

“They’ll want revenge, they’ve got a lot going for them,” Cannella said.

In the Minutemen’s season opener against the Black Knights (0-1), UMass scored eight goals, which doesn’t sit right with Cannella.

“We want to score 50 goals if we can,” Cannella said. “I think in college lacrosse if you’re going to be successful day in and day out, [you have to] score in the double-digits.”

Offensively, the Minutemen will rely on the same producers as the season opener. Attacker Will Manny will look to build off his goal and pair of assists from last game by continuing to pressure with fellow offensive players including juniors Art Kell, Anthony Biscardi and sophomore Colin Fleming.

“I talked to the offensive guys about the five P’s: proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance and that’s what we’re certainly looking at right now,” Cannella said.

UMass has had a week to prepare for Saturday’s affair, which will pit them against a Hawks team that boasts Tim Fallon, a second team preseason All-American who is not only a tough face-off player, but also athletic enough to spread the midfield.

“Fallon is a guy that can win it to himself; he’s athletic up the field,” Cannella said. “Guys like that, you try to minimize their damage [and] what they can do to you the best you can.”

Along with Fallon, UMass has its eyes on four of last season’s top five scorers in the AE conference, including junior Aidan Genik, who tallied 36 goals.

Hartford’s goalkeeper, Scott Bement, who earned second team all-league honors last season, will be in the cage on Saturday and will be a tough force for the Minutemen to overcome.

Another challenge for UMass will be competing away from home, where it has spent a majority of its time this season. Other than a scrimmage at St. John’s, UMass has stayed at Garber Field through attrocious weather and its first win.

“The stadium’s a different feel than Garber,” Cannella said. “There’s a certain comfort level for us most definitely at Garber Field and that’s a big challenge for this weekend.”

The Minutemen will begin their head-to-head battle with Hartford at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Following the game against the Hawks, UMass will be back at Garber Field for its next two games against Ohio State and No. 20 Brown.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]