UMass men’s lacrosse looks for consistent effort against Towson

By Cameron McDonough

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

For one game, it looked as though the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team had turned things around offensively.

After failing to reach double digits in scoring for six straight games, the Minutemen (5-5, 0-2 Colonial Athletic Association) put together a 13-11 win over Hartford on March 23.

But that offensive breakthrough was short-lived.

UMass couldn’t build on that performance as it dropped its next game to St. Joseph’s, 7-6, last Saturday, and in the loss, the Minutemen were unable to score against a zone defense, which is something that has hurt them before.

“They played zone defense the entire game,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “We were probably not aggressive enough against the zone. We did get good opportunities to score and we didn’t score.”

The Minutemen faced a suffocating zone defense against Brown on March 2 and Penn State on March 16. And just like last Saturday, they lost both of those games.

“When you have opportunities and point blank opportunities, you have to put it in the back of the net in games like that that are going to be tight, particularly on the road,” Cannella said.

The UMass offense will have its hands full once again this weekend on the road as it faces a sound Towson (6-5, 2-0 CAA) defense, which is led by goalie Andrew Wascavage.

Wascavage is coming off a 19-save performance in a 7-6 win over Hofstra last Saturday. The CAA named him Co-Player of the Week for his performance in the win.

Statistically, Wascavage leads the CAA and is fourth in the nation in saves per game (13.82). He’s fifth in the nation and third in the CAA in save percentage at .608, and he is also holding the opposition to 8.79 goals per game.

For a UMass team struggling to score, Wascavage presents a tough challenge, but Cannella said his team will still have its opportunities to score.

“We’re just gonna need to put the ball in the back of the net. You’re gonna have your opportunities like you do in every game,” Cannella said. “We’ve been in games — the Penn State game and the Brown game, this past game — similar situations where you have opportunities and you don’t score, you’re gonna wind up scoring five, six, seven goals.

“So, you hope you can score a few in transition. Hopefully you can score a few in 6-on-6 and play well on the other side of the ball.”

The Tigers also present a tough challenge for the Minutemen defense. Although Towson is second to last in the CAA in goals scored per game, it still has the leading scorer in the CAA in Thomas DeNapoli, who is scoring 2.55 goals per game. He has a total of 28 goals and 10 assists.

“He’s an excellent player,” Cannella said. “He played midfield his first two years and now he’s down on attack. He’s a lefty. It’s a tough match up for anybody. He’s scoring about 2.5 goals a game in CAA play. He’s an excellent player, but he’s not the only one.”

Cory Dobyns (17 goals) and Andrew Hodgson (15 goals) are other threats for the Tigers.

If UMass is to come back home with a victory in hand, it will most likely have to play well on both sides of the ball, which Cannella said his team is not consistently doing at the moment.

Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin a 1 p.m.

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