Minutemen top Blue Hens, 11-5, in Garber clash

By Jay Asser

Maria Uminski/Collegian
Maria Uminski/Collegian

On a night honoring the seniors playing their final home regular season game at Garber Field, a freshman stole the show to lead to the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team to a victory.

Connor Mooney scored a career-high five goals as No. 20 UMass topped Delaware 11-5 on Friday.

“We asked all of our guys to play like a senior tonight and he’s certainly one of the guys who did that,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella of Mooney after the win.

Along with the festive atmosphere of Senior Night, Garber Field sported an energetic environment as the Minutemen (9-4, 4-2 Colonial Athletic Association) played their first home game under the lights since 2004. While the change in start time didn’t seem to give UMass an advantage, it allowed the players to be in full-swing when the game began.

“These college students, they’re like vampires, you know,” said Cannella. “You play a game at one o’clock, you get them up at nine to eat breakfast, [and] these guys are tired. … Maybe a night game they get a little bit more energy, but I’m sure Delaware had the same thing.”

After a low-scoring first half which saw UMass take a 3-1 lead into the intermission, the Minutemen exploded in the third quarter.

Mooney tallied three of his five goals in the third period, including back-to-back scores in a 33-second span with seven minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the quarter to give the Minutemen a 6-2 lead. Following a goal from the Blue Hens’ (9-6, 4-2 CAA) Nick Elsmo that chipped away at the deficit, UMass responded with three more scores by Kyle Smith, Mooney and Anthony Toresco to close out the period with a 9-4 lead.

In the fourth, the two teams traded goals, with each squad scoring two apiece as the Minutemen kept the Delaware attack at bay to earn the win.

While Mooney was the main finisher at the net for UMass, it was not without good ball movement and helpful feeds. Of Mooney’s five goals in the contest, four were assisted by Mike Fetterly and Will Manny, who also notched another assist and a goal for a four-point night.

“I was getting behind my guy’s head, but Will Manny and Mike Fetterly were giving me great feeds, so I had the easy part,” said Mooney. “They were giving me great feeds to finish the ball.”

In the first half, the Minutemen defense and goalkeeper Tim McCormack smothered the Blue Hens offense. Delaware began the game by scoring the first goal, as Eric Smith scored with 4:32 remaining in the opening quarter.

UMass, however, proceeded to score three-straight as Art Kell, Mooney and Colin Fleming put in goals before halftime.

Though the Minutemen took a 3-1 lead into the second half, the offense struggled to find a rhythm and finish opportunities. That’s where McCormack’s saves were valuable, buying UMass time to get its attack back on track.

“We made some mistakes on that end and Timmy covered up for us,” said Cannella. “He made one save on the ground, just incredible off of a turnover that we made. So he was solid, he’s been solid.”

The five goals allowed by the Minutemen were tied for the fewest allowed this season, the previous five-goal performance coming in the season opener, when UMass and McCormack shut down Army for an 8-5 victory at home.

With the win, the Minutemen enter the postseason with confidence as they look ahead to a matchup with Penn State in the CAA Semifinals on Wednesday night.

Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected]