Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Cannella hopes for big scoring against defensive Tigers

By Jay Asser

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Maxwell Sparr/Collegian

After breaking its brief two-game losing streak, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team will take on conference foe Towson on the road on Saturday.

No. 16 UMass will travel to Towson for the first time in the regular season since 1963. The matchup with the Tigers also marks the final contest of a three-game road stint and the beginning of a four-game stretch in Colonial Athletic Association play to round out of the regular season for the Minutemen (6-3, 1-1 CAA).

Following a 16-9 victory over Saint Joseph’s on April 2, UMass will look to carry momentum over into Saturday. While momentum is often difficult to judge, UMass coach Greg Cannella feels that it is a factor in college athletics.

“I think the personalities of a lot of, not only our kids but other student athletes are, ‘Hey, we won the last one. We’re feeling good about this. Let’s have a good work week of practice and get back out there,’” said Cannella.

Though the Minutemen seemed to get out a lot of offensive frustration in their win over the Hawks, they will need to be sharp on attack once again when they face Towson, who have kept games low-scoring this year.

Of their nine contests, the Tigers (2-7, 0-2 CAA) have held opponents to under 10 goals in five of them. In back-to-back games in late February and early March, Towson held both Loyola and Mount St. Mary’s to three goals each. While the Tigers’ offense hasn’t done the defense any favors, ranking second-to-last in the CAA in goals per game (7.11), Cannella knows his attack will need to have a strong effort.

“You got to get this one into double digits if you want a chance, honestly, so you got to score,” said Cannella. “In these CAA games, they’re grind out games so every possession counts, every play counts and we try to make our guys aware of that as much as we can that we’re [going to] have to grind this out on both ends of the field and in between the lines.”

In two meetings in 2010, Towson claimed a pair of victories against UMass. After edging the Minutemen 10-9 in a regular-season matchup at Garber Field, the Tigers handed the Minutemen a 13-6 loss in UMass’ first conference playoff game in the CAA semifinals at Johnny Unitas Stadium on May 5. Towson used a 12-2 run to create separation and hold off the Minutemen for the victory.

Of the four contests in which the Minutemen failed to score double digits that year, Towson was the opponent in two of them. That’s why Cannella feels that the Tigers of this season aren’t much different than the team that gave the Minutemen problems last year.

“I think they’re always [going to] be gritty, they’re always [going to] be well prepared,” said Cannella. “Regardless of what their record says, they’re always [going to] be a solid team and they play a really tough schedule when you look at it and you just hope that, again, we can go down there and play well.”

The two losses to Towson last season, however, were in UMass’ first season in the CAA. With a season under their belt and experience gained in the conference, the Minutemen are starting to feel more comfortable against CAA opponents.

“It’s still developing but our guys should [feel experienced], especially when you lose a team twice the year before,” said Cannella. “You better know something about them if you’re [going to] go play them again.”

The contest is slated for a 1 p.m. start on Saturday at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected]

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