Biscardi’s hit sparks Minutemen

By Jackson Alexander

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

It started with a bone-crushing hit delivered by Anthony Biscardi.

The senior had just leveled Hofstra freshman midfielder Steve Romano, who was streaking towards UMass’ (12-0, 5-0 Colonial Athletic Association) defensive zone.

“What happened was, I was getting in the hole, I saw [Ryan Hollenbaugh] forcing him to the middle, so I kind of picked it up a little bit, the kid cut and left his chest, so I planted my shoulder in there,” said Biscardi.

Hofstra’s (6-7, 2-3 CAA) bench erupted, and the officials deemed the hit illegal and issued Biscardi a two-minute non-releasable penalty.

“I thought it was a clean hit, I didn’t hit him with my head…I didn’t think I deserved the two-minute [penalty],” said Biscardi.

With eight minutes and 34 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, it appeared that Hofstra would have the ball with the man advantage for two minutes, down 12-11.

“The hit is very questionable because it’s probably a high hit and you could probably hurt somebody there,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella.

Considering the way the last few minutes had played out, Biscardi’s penalty looked ominous.

After a Colin Fleming goal at the 9:24 mark of the third quarter, the Minutemen held a 10-6 lead and looked in control of the game.

However, the Pride responded with five unanswered goals to grab an 11-10 lead in the opening moments of the fourth quarter.

“Hell yeah, I was concerned,” said Cannella. “Hofstra was explosive, we didn’t make the saves we usually make tonight, [and] they won most of the draws on their run.”

UMass momentarily slowed the Pride’s furious rally with a pair of goals, one by senior Art Kell and the other by junior Kyle Smith, to regain the lead. However, the penalty on Biscardi minutes later gave the Pride new life.

After being whistled, Biscardi walked to the sideline and took one knee in the penalty box.

And then, all of a sudden, the Minutemen bench let out a roar.

While the injured Romano was being helped off the field by the Pride’s medical staff, Hofstra’s Mike DeNapoli earned a one-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. What exactly DeNapoli did to warrant the penalty was unclear.

“There was extracurricular [activity] going on in the box and it got handled,” said Biscardi.

“We were locked in for two minutes non-releasable and it was just an unfortunate incident, I’m not sure what the young man was doing there, and that sort of changed the tide of the game at that point,” said Cannella of DeNapoli’s penalty.

Instead of having the ball in the man-up for two minutes, Hofstra conceded possession to UMass, for a minute of even-strength play and a one-minute man-up advantage for the Pride.

However, the one-minute man advantage for the Pride was useless, as the Minutemen held possession for more than two minutes without taking a shot.

“We were trying to kill the ball, we were even for a minute, 5-on-5, and when they released, then we were down for a minute, and we were able to hold the ball against double-teams,” said Cannella.

Initially, Biscardi’s penalty appeared problematic for UMass. However, it wasn’t nearly as detrimental as DeNapoli’s penalty.

“The other penalty is what really did it for us. We were able to hold the ball for two minutes after that,” said Cannella.

Once UMass got back to even strength, they capitalized, as Fleming scored at the 6:02 mark to push the lead to 13-11. Biscardi tacked on another goal a minute later, and the Minutemen staved off a late rally by Hofstra to survive, 14-13.

In the end, the Minutemen did what Hofstra was unable to do with the game on the line: keep their cool.

“You’re going to have tight games, you’re going to have to face adversity,” said UMass goalie Tim McCormack. “It’s just how you handle it.”

Jackson Alexander can be reached at [email protected] and followed @MDC_Alexander.