UMass drops second straight game at Albany Tuesday

By Nick Canelas

After suffering a regular season loss for the first time since his sophomore year on Saturday, Kyle Smith said he was glad to have a game again on Tuesday.

Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Collegian

Smith responded to the loss with a pair of goals, but it was far from enough as Lyle Thompson scored five goals and recorded three assists to lead Albany to a 15-9 win over the No. 9 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team at John Fallon Field yesterday.

The Minutemen (3-2) have now lost consecutive games for the first time since March 2011, and haven’t won at Albany since 2002.

UMass was deflated by its season-high 16 turnovers against Brown on Saturday, and matched that mark again on Tuesday as this young team continues to figure out how to move the ball efficiently without scoring threats Will Manny and Colin Fleming in the lineup.

Goalkeeper Zachary Oliveri had arguably the worst outing of his young career with the Minutemen. The redshirt freshman made 10 saves, but allowed a career-high 12 goals against.

Despite the team-wide struggles, UMass coach Greg Cannella took the blame for the loss.

“We were unprepared to play. It’s basically my fault,” Cannella said. “I didn’t prepare the guys the right way over the last couple days, so we didn’t come out ready to play and we proved that. We turned the ball over a bunch of times, so I’m taking blame for this one.”

Cannella also talked about how the Minutemen were hurt by their lack of depth, saying, “We’re not very deep. We don’t have the depth, especially coming back for Tuesday games.”

UMass spent the majority of the contest playing from behind, but finally knotted the score at 5 apiece when Grant Whiteway scored his first of two goals fin the game early in the third quarter.

But that was as close as the Minutemen would get.

The Great Danes (2-2) outscored UMass 10-4 the rest of the way, netting five goals in each of the final two quarters.

After consecutive Albany goals made it 7-5, Matt Whippen cut the deficit in half when he scored his team-high 10th goal of the season with under 10 minutes left in the third quarter. The junior midfielder used his 225-pound frame to charge into the attacking end and beat goalie Blaze Riorden (12 saves).

The Great Danes once again responded furiously with three unanswered goals capped off by Kevin McNally’s marker to put them up 10-6 with 3:24 left in the third.

The Minutemen got back into it with 3:40 left in regulation when Smith put home his second goal of the contest to slice the Albany lead to 11-9. But Thompson struck again for the Great Danes, first assisting Jimmy Haugen to make it 12-9, then capping it off with his fifth goal of the game in the closing minutes.

Albany finished the game on a 4-0 run.

“They did that all day,” Cannella said. “Anytime we got close, they stretched the game by two goals, three goals. Obviously, good teams do that.”

The Minutemen stayed in the game early on, tying it at 2-2 early in the second quarter on a Dan Muller goal. But the Great Danes quickly responded with three unanswered goals to make it 5-2 midway through the period.

Mooney scored an unassisted goal with 6:57 left in the first half to make it 5-3, then Andrew Sokol scored on a feed by Bobby Tyler to take a one-goal deficit into the half.

The lone positive for UMass was the two goals by each of its starting attackmen – Smith, Whiteway and Mooney – but it wasn’t enough to match the efforts of Thompson.

“He’s probably the best player in the country right now by far, in my opinion,” Cannella said.

The Minutemen try to end their first losing streak in nearly two years when they travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to take on Bucknell at noon on Saturday.

Nick Canelas can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.