Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass tries to end losing streak in CAA opener against Penn State

Bryn Rothschild-Shea/Collegian

With 19 years of experience to lean on, Massachusetts men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella is confident in his philosophies as a head coach.

Like many coaches, he believes in strong physical and mental preparation. He also believes that if his players practice at a high level from Monday to Friday, it will translate into their effort on Saturday.

But times are tough for Cannella’s No. 19 Minutemen (3-3). After a promising start, the Minutemen are now in the midst of their first three-game losing-streak since 2008, and the team has been plagued by injuries all season.

At the root of the problem has been the offense. UMass has averaged 7.25 goals in its last four contests and has failed to come through in key moments.

But despite the obvious struggles, Cannella doesn’t plan to change a thing.

“We’re getting towards the middle of the season now and guys are nicked up and worn down a little bit,” he said. “Specifically where we are – we’ve lost three games – you don’t want to change too much and hedge on what you believe in as a coaching staff.”

UMass’ chance to right the ship will come on Saturday when it opens Colonial Athletic Association play against No. 18 Penn State at Garber Field at noon.

The Minutemen are trying to defend their conference championship and get back to the NCAA Tournament, but more importantly, they’re looking for a clean slate.

“It’s a new season, because our conference play is what really matters because there’s an automatic berth. There’s enough good teams in there to get a few quality wins,” senior attackman Kyle Smith said. “We’re definitely looking at it as a fresh start.”

Cannella, on the other hand, views every game as a fresh start, and conference games are no different.

“Obviously the conference is important,” he said. “One of the team’s goals is to win the conference, but when you enter these games, we’re more focused on Penn State than the conference.”

The Nittany Lions (2-3) are also in the midst of a three-game losing-streak after a strong start to the season and are looking to rebound in their CAA opener.

Each of the last two meetings between the teams have been decided by a goal, with UMass winning 9-8 in overtime last year. Smith said he expects this Saturday to be no different.

The Minutemen put together statistically their worst offensive outing in Saturday’s 7-4 loss to Bucknell, however, Cannella believes they gave a good effort. They just failed to execute.

“If you watch the film, we had opportunities. We just didn’t finish,” he said. “The execution is not there, and the finishing touch is not there, but that’s not for a lack of effort. The effort was definitely there.

“So the effort is there, now people have to step up and push forward. That’s what happened in the first three games. It just hasn’t happened in the last three.”

UMass hasn’t faced this type of adversity in some time, but Cannella has been through it on multiple occasions. He believes confidence is the key to overcoming it.

Smith thinks it’s simply a matter of pushing for consistency.

“It’s been an inconsistent season so far, and I think that’s one thing we’ve got to get a hold of. I think a good week of practice and a good outing on Saturday can really help that,” he said.

But in order to do that, the Minutemen must overcome a Nittany Lions team that is equally desperate for a win.

“We expect them to come in well-prepared. They’re a well-coached team,” Cannella said. “And I’m sure they’re very hungry. Both teams are coming off of losses so they’ll have great focus, and hopefully, we’ll have the same.”

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


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *