Senior class set for Senior Day showdown

By Stephen Sellner

For senior Art Kell, it feels like yesterday that he was playing on Garber Field for the first time as a freshman.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Three years later, Kell and the rest of the senior class will take the field for their last regular season game on Garber Field as the No. 2 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team hosts Towson on Saturday afternoon for Senior Day.

Eleven seniors will be honored for what could be their final contest on their home turf. The Minutemen could potentially play at Garber Field again in the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs.

Kell, Tim McCormack, Anthony Biscardi, Tom Celentani and Greg Anderson are among those seniors that will be honored. Steve D’Amario, Mike Fetterly, Greg Rushing, Anthony Toresco, Eric Soto and Alex Reinhard round out the talented senior class that has produced a 36-17 record over their three-plus years with the program.

Kell said he’s gotten chills thinking that Saturday could be their last game at Garber Field.

“For everyone on the team, Garber is … where we put in all our work,” said Kell. “It means a lot, it really does. We don’t just say that, like it really does mean a lot. I’m getting chills thinking about how this could be our last game because … it’s gone by so fast.”

Kell and the rest of the senior class have been a part of great teams in the past, including the 2009 squad that won the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament. The class was also a part of the program’s transition into the CAA, making the conference playoffs in UMass’ first two seasons in the CAA.

McCormack, who’s started in net for the Minutemen for the past two seasons, said the thing he’ll remember the most from his time at UMass are the people he’s played with along the way.

“I’ve got some of my best friends for life here as well as being coached by coach [Greg] Cannella,” said McCormack.

Cannella has been impressed with the seniors’ leadership this season, which he said has made it easier for the coaching staff.

“It’s always great to have seniors, leaders that sort of intervene before we ever have to get involved … They all know how we want these guys to prepare [and] act on the field [and] off the field,” said Cannella.

That leadership was established in the team’s first meeting of the season, when the seniors sat down together with Cannella to try to figure out what kind of legacy they wanted to pass on to the younger guys. McCormack and the rest of the class wanted to reinstall the mindset of past UMass teams of being tougher and working harder than the opposition in every game.

“It’s a mentality where you go out and you know that you worked harder [than the other team] and that you’re going to continue to work harder,” said McCormack. “No one’s ever satisfied. Those guys were tough. They were scary to play. They made Garber Field one of the hardest places to play and that’s what we wanted to bring back.”

“They decided that, ‘Hey, we want to be prepared and we want to play well every game. We’re not going to be this team or defense that one game we’re pretty good, the next game we’re really good and the third game we’re not very good,’” said Cannella. “It’s been they’re consistency.”

With that attitude, the Minutemen have regained their toughness and emerged as a national championship contender with a perfect start to the season. Yet despite the national attention, the seniors have kept the team grounded and focused on the task at hand to avoid any slip-ups along the way.

“We have a good class, a mature class that realizes that all this No. 2 ranking and all this stuff is really nonsense and it doesn’t really mean anything,” said Kell. “It’s about performing and making it to the NCAA tournament and winning some games there.”

And with this senior class leading the way, no one would be surprised if that’s where it ends up.

Stephen Sellner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Sellner.