UMass men’s lacrosse faces must-win game against Hofstra

By Cameron McDonough

Taylor Snow/Collegian

Despite a regular season that has gone far from plan for the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team, the defending Colonial Athletic Association champions still have a chance to make the CAA Tournament and defend its crown.

In order for that to happen, however, the Minutemen (5-7, 0-4 CAA) will need to win their final two games and get some outside help. But UMass coach Greg Cannella doesn’t want his team to focus on playoff scenarios.

“The focus is actually to play well and play hard and play fast more than anything,” Cannella said. “You’ve got to focus on the game or the games themselves if you want to have a chance. If you focus on something else as a result of that then you’re not focusing on the right things.”

Cannella said he told his team what lies ahead, but that it’s not its focus. The focus instead is on preparing for its game against No. 20 Hofstra (7-5, 2-2 CAA) on Saturday.

When the Minutemen take the field on Saturday against the Pride, their starting spot in goal is in doubt for the first time all season.

Redshirt freshman Zachary Oliveri, who has started each of UMass’ first 12 games, was pulled in favor of junior Reed Goodhue at halftime during the Minutemen’s 15-14 loss against Drexel last Saturday.

Goodhue struggled at times and gave up eight goals in relief, but he did come up with 11 saves and Cannella said after the loss that he provided a spark for his team.

Now the two are battling it out for the start on Saturday, but Cannella said the competition is no different than any other week.

“It’s good every week. I don’t think it’s any different this week than it’s been every other week,” he said. “Reed is a very competitive guy, so is Zach and they both want to play. We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

On the other end of the field, the UMass offense will have its hands full with the top defense in the country. Hofstra is holding its opponents to an average of seven goals per game this season, led by goalie Chris Selva. The sophomore is second in the nation with a 6.95 goals against average and a .623 save percentage.

“So it’s a great challenge and a challenge that our offense has to stand up to and perform,” Cannella said.

In order for the Minutemen to score on Hofstra’s defense, they will look to carry the momentum they seized from its 14-goal output last Saturday, which Cannella said he thinks can happen. But he also added that this is a new week and a new opponent.

“Things change from game to game and now you’re back on the road and you’re playing a really good defense with an outstanding goalie,” he said. “So the scenarios are different and I think it comes down to… the execution of what you can do under pressure.”

Saturday’s tilt is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Hempstead, N.Y.

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