Minutemen stay unbeaten, take down No. 20 Brown Bears

By Herb Scribner

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Jake Hachey/Collegian

Jake Hachey/Collegian

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team didn’t let up on its strong start to the season Saturday afternoon and cruised to a 9-6 win over No. 20 Brown.

“I thought it was a great effort on our behalf,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella. “Brown’s an excellent team, [and they have] tremendous athletes everywhere.”

While the game started off back-and-forth, the third quarter saw a swarm of offense from the Minutemen. By the conclusion of the game, UMass (4-0) had two players with hat tricks in junior midfielder Anthony Biscardi and freshman attackman Connor Mooney.

Mooney and Biscardi helped the Minutemen offense, which lacked leading performances from attackmen Will Manny and Art Kell, who were both held scoreless despite a combined seven shots.

“When Will Manny and Art Kell get shut out and [you] win, you’ve got to be happy,” said Cannella.

Mooney said this game was an indication of how he’s adapting to the UMass style of play.

“I’m definitely getting a little more comfortable playing in the system,” he said.

“He brings a different element to our attack,” said Cannella of Mooney. “He’s just a hard worker [and a] tremendous kid as a person and as a teammate.”

Junior Greg Rushing played impressively against the Brown Bears (1-1), as he secured a career-high 13 groundballs and went 10-for-14 on faceoffs.

“I think Rush expects that more than us now,” said Cannella. “You’ve got to be really happy for a guy like Rush.”

While Rushing, Biscardi and Mooney helped give UMass possession and time on the offensive side of the ball, Cannella wasn’t thrilled with how the unit performed in the victory.

“On offense, we were a little bit uncharacteristic, [but] we’ll take it,” said Cannella. “If you watch me on the sideline, I was pretty aggravated because I thought we could play better, particularly on offense.”

Until the third quarter, the Minutemen relied on its defense to stay ahead of a resilient Brown side. This included containing junior Andrew Feinberg, who unloaded four goals on the Brown Bears’ first opponent of the season, Quinnipiac, on Feb. 26. Feinberg was held to a goal and an assist on Saturday.

“Feinberg is probably one of the better attackmen we’ll face,” said Cannella.

With their defense standing tough, the Minutemen opened up a little bit more in the third and allowed its offense to have a crack at the net.

“We settled down, we played less defense and more offense … and had to work for our goals,” said Cannella. “Our defense had a chance to settle down and catch their breath.”

The opening up of the offense allowed the Minutemen to outscore Brown, 5-2, in the second half, giving the squad all the offense it needed to remain unbeaten.

When UMass travels to face Albany on Tuesday, it won’t be facing a nationally-ranked team, as the Minutemen face a Great Danes (1-1) squad picked to finish second in the America East Conference ­– headed by No. 7 Stony Brook.

In its most recent contest against Delaware, Albany picked up its first win of the season with the help of freshman Miles Thompson, who notched a hat trick.

For Cannella, the difference in rankings doesn’t affect the way the team is going to practice and prepare.

“We just talk about our team, our focus [and] our opponents,” said Cannella. “Regardless of who you’re playing, you have to be ready. If you’re not ready to play, somebody’s going to beat you.”

This will be the beginning of a two-game road trip for the Minutemen, who went 3-4 on the road last season.

“We weren’t very good away from home last year either, so we hope we can scratch out a couple this year,” said Cannella.

UMass will have three days to prepare for its game Tuesday, a quick turnaround for a team used to playing on a weekly basis.

“It is very different for us in terms of who we’ve gone week to week [with] here,” said Cannella. “We talk to the guys to try and get as much rest as you can, stay off your feet [as] best you can. It is very different, and the energy will probably be very different. Hopefully we can be there physically, but also be there mentally.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]