UMass lax looks to avoid first three-game losing streak since 2008

By Cameron McDonough

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

The No. 9 Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team is in an unusual situation. The team is in the midst of a losing streak.

The Minutemen have now lost back-to-back games, beginning with a 9-8 overtime defeat last Saturday against Brown a 15-9 loss on the road against Albany Tuesday.

UMass (3-2) hadn’t lost two-straight games in almost two years since its loses against Penn State on March 19, 2011 and at Harvard on March 29, 2011.

A loss this Saturday at Bucknell (3-1) would be the third in a row for the Minutemen, a fate they have avoided since they finished the 2008 season with four-straight losses.

If UMass is to avoid that third-straight defeat it will need to fix three things that have hurt them in the last two games, according to coach Greg Cannella.

“Lack of energy, lack of enthusiasm and too many unforced errors,” he said.

These three issues have been especially prevalent on offense where the Minutemen have failed to get to double digits in points the past three games, something that Cannella says is not part of a winning formula in college lacrosse.

This Saturday’s game will also be the third in a week for UMass, something that Cannella said is always a concern.

“It’s more mental I think than physical. You know these guys as 18- to 22-year-olds, they should be able to recover pretty quickly,” he said.

That third game in a week will be on the road at noon against a Bison team that was ranked to start the season but fell out of the Top 20 after they lost at Mount St. Mary’s.

Offensively, Bucknell is lead by Todd Heritage (10 goals, 3 assists) on attack and David Dickson (13 assists) in the midfield.

“They’re very crafty on offense. They’ve got a very balanced scoring in terms of an attack unit,” Cannella said.

He later said this about Bucknell’s midfield: “(There are) a couple of young guys in there that have really stepped in (Thomas) Flibotte and (Brock) Ghelfi that have done a really good job for those guys and have produced out there on the field for them.”

Defensively, the Bison are only allowing 7.50 goals per game, while the Minutemen are allowing 10.00.

One of the main reasons for Bucknell’s strong defense has been the play of senior goalie Kyle Feeney. He has posted a 7.28 goals against average and a save percentage of 52.6.

Cannella said that he has no updates on the status of his injured players. Will Manny, Colin Fleming and James Fahey all remain on the sidelines with injuries.

Manny hasn’t played since UMass’ season-opening win against Army on Feb. 10 with a broken thumb and is expected to miss a month. Fleming missed the first game with an ankle sprain and then reinjured it when he tried to play during UMass’ 12-11 win over North Carolina on Feb. 16. Fahey also was injured during the game against the Tar Heels.

Despite the injuries and two-straight losses, Cannella says his team has no choice but to be in good spirits.

“You’re five games into your season,” he said, “so do you hang your head and go woe is me because we lost two games or do you push forward? You know these guys are tough, you know they’re not your ordinary student here on campus. These guys are student athletes.

“They go through a lot everyday and they’re not gonna hang their heads because they’ve lost a couple of games. They’re gonna go out and give a great effort.”

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Cam_McDonough.