Anthony Biscardi wins playoff game for UMass lax in overtime

By Herb Scribner

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The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has a thing for overtime drama.

On Wednesday night at Penn State, the Minutemen secured themselves a spot in the CAA Championship Game after an overtime goal from Anthony Biscardi. This was the Minutemen’s third overtime winner, which brings them to 3-0 on the season.

“I just tried to bury it right in the ground,” said Biscardi in a UMass Athletics interview.

Biscardi was a part of a strong offensive push by the Minutemen, which included four goals from Art Kell, and goals from Kyle Smith, Ryan Hantverk, Connor Mooney and Ryan Hollenbaugh.

Unlike the last two meetings between the sides, UMass found a way to break through PSU goalkeeper Austin Kaut, who, at the time of March 18 bout, notched the most saves by a goalkeeper in the 2011 season with 25 stops. On Wednesday, Kaut saved 20 of the Minutemen’s 45 shots.

“Our guys settled down a bit and were able to finish the ball on a really great goalie,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella.

The game wasn’t always in UMass’ favor, and for a long time, it appeared that PSU was going to snag the victory away. Though the teams stayed in a deadlock for the majority of the first quarter, the Nittany Lions slapped two balls home to take a 2-0 lead with just under four minutes remaining.

While the Minutemen came back with a score of their own, PSU opened up another 2-0 run in the second period to head into the halftime break with a 4-1 lead.

This season, UMass has found success in the third quarters as it has outscored its opponents, 50-31, in the quarter. This remained true in Wednesday’s contest, as the Minutemen notched seven goals in the third quarter which outdid the Nittany Lions’ pair of goals.

“We were just saying, ‘Win the first five minutes and the next five minutes will be easier,” said Biscardi.

“Our guys played with a little more energy in the second half than in the first half,” said Cannella.

Holding an advantage going into the final period, the Minutemen tried to remain poised on defense. While in earlier games this season it’s been the Minutemen that try to make a comeback, this game showed PSU pulling some Maroon and White tricks as they notched three significant goals to bring themselves back.

The last of the goals, scored by Jack Forster, knotted the score at nine apiece. Neither team could score in the final six minutes of the period which brought them to overtime.

PSU came extremely close to scoring in the late minutes of regulation, but goalkeeper Reed Goodhue, who replaced Tim McCormack after the starting goalkeeper was penalized, made his first save this season to push the game to extra time.

“We have faith in Reed, he’s a good kid [and] a good worker.” said Cannella.

“You’ve always got to be ready,” said Goodhue. “I’m watching the ball go around, waiting for a shot to come in. I knew I just needed to get big and get in front of the ball.”

It took Biscardi less than two minutes to notch his second goal of the game and the game-winner.

The victory gives the Minutemen and its graduating seniors another chance to compete at Garber Field as they will host Delaware on Saturday night. Additionally, the victory puts UMass one step closer to the coveted NCAA Tournament.

However, Cannella understands that after the Minutemen ripped the Blue Hens apart back on Senior Day, Delaware will be looking for some revenge.

“Delaware has experience … so we’ll have our hands full with those guys,” said Cannella. “We’ve got about a day to prepare so hopefully we can get ourselves together.”

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]