Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen capture CAA championship at Garber on Sat.

By Jackson Alexander

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Cade Belisle/Collegian

Cade Belisle/Collegian

The bench sprinted onto the field to congratulate Massachusetts men’s lacrosse goalkeeper Tim McCormack, the crowd let out a boisterous roar and UMass coach Greg Cannella was left grinning on the sidelines with the rest of his staff.

Cannella’s squad had just claimed its first Colonial Athletic Association championship on Saturday night at Garber Field with an 18-12 win over Drexel.

A season-high 3,204 fans witnessed the Minutemen (15-0) clinch a trio to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.

“It’s a positive night for us,” said Cannella. “Hopefully we can soak it up a little bit, then move on.”

Junior Kyle Smith led UMass on offense with an eight-point outburst (four goals, four assists), while senior faceoff specialist Anthony Toresco played the game of his career as he went 18-for-26 on faceoffs, and added a pair of goals and assists.

“Anytime we’ve had a good team here at UMass we’ve had guys who can win the ball for us and that’s how it goes in lacrosse,” said Cannella. “Also, for [Toresco] to score and assist is a bonus.”

Toresco was named the CAA tournament MVP, while Smith along with junior defender Jake Smith and attacker Colin Fleming were named to the tournament team.

“I just go out there every day and work my hardest to get the ball to my teammates,” said Toresco.

Just a minute into the game, the Minutemen got on the board first as long stick midfield defender Ryan Hollenbaugh scored his first goal of the season on a feed from Kyle Smith.

Drexel responded with the next two goals from Ryan Belka and Brendan Glynn to take its first lead of the game.

Neither team allowed a goal for the next seven minutes, but UMass tied it up at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter as sophomore Connor Mooney tallied his sixth goal of the season on a feed from Will Manny.

Drexel’s Aaron Prosser and UMass’ Ryan Izzo traded goals to keep the score tied. Then with 28 seconds left, Kyle Smith scored the goal of the night.

The play developed when Mike Fetterly took his man one-one-one and scooted past him with a series of jukes. Fetterly quickly dished to Smith who was open on the crease. But before Smith could turn and shoot, a Dragons defender bounced Smith off the crease with a stick check. Smith gathered himself, and with his back to the net, whipped a no-look shot over his right shoulder and past Drexel goalie Mark Manos. The goal gave UMass a 4-3 first quarter lead.

Drexel scored two of the first three goals to start the second quarter to knot the score at five at the 10:55 mark. Robert Church and Kyle Bergman scored for the Dragons, while Steve D’Amario tallied a goal for the Minutemen.

The critical juncture of the game came in the next five minutes and 54 seconds. During that time, UMass went on a 5-0 run to grab a commanding 10-5 lead. Smith scored three times and added an assist, Hollenbaugh tallied his second and Toresco recorded both of his assists over that stretch. Smith’s third goal at the 5:01 mark gave the Minutemen a five-goal lead.

“Fortunately we were able to get out to a big lead there in the second quarter,” said Cannella.

Glynn cut the deficit to four before the halftime, and UMass entered the break up 10-6.

The Minutemen built off of the momentum gained in the second quarter with three straight goals to start the second half.

Toresco took the opening faceoff and sprinted to Drexel’s goal unabated where he bounced a shot past Manos for his first goal of the season.

“A couple times [the defense] didn’t slide to me, so I shot and scored,” said Toresco.

Just 16 seconds later, Toresco won the ensuing faceoff, midfielder Greg Rushing recovered the groundball, and scored his first goal of the game.

“Anthony scored a couple off of the faceoff and had a couple assists off of the faceoff,” said Cannella.

Manny then chipped in his first goal of the game at the 11:13 mark on a dish from Smith to make the score 13-6 in UMass’ favor.

Each team tacked on two goals apiece before the end of the quarter to make the score 15-9.

Drexel made a small challenge for the lead in the fourth quarter, but any bid for an upset was put down when Manny scored his third goal of the game with six minutes left to push the lead to seven.

The Dragons scored two of the next three goals, but it was far too late as UMass emerged victorious, 18-12.

Manny, the CAA Player of the Year, aided Smith and Toresco with three goals and one assist to bump his season points total to 75. His 75 points now put him in a tie for 11th all-time in UMass history in single-season scoring.

Hollenbaugh and senior Art Kell were the other Minutemen to score multiple goals, with two scores apiece.

McCormack picked up his 14th win in net of the season as he stopped 10 shots. McCormack’s counterpart, Manos, made 11 saves.

UMass’ opponent in the first round of the NCAA tournament will be revealed tomorrow at the NCAA tournament selection show. Given the Minutemen’s top ranking and undefeated record, a home game appears imminent.

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

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