UMass men’s lacrosse seniors finish careers at Garber with win

By Cameron McDonough

Stephen Hewitt/Collegian

Just two weeks ago, it looked like the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team’s seniors were on the verge of missing the first Colonial Athletic Association Tournament of their careers.

But those seniors – Bobby Tyler, Ryan Hollenbaugh, Brett Tobin, Colin Fleming, K.R. Jurgelevich, Jake Smith, Will Manny and Kyle Smith – wouldn’t let that happen as they helped the Minutemen win their final two games and make the tournament as the No. 4 seed.

Their final win came Friday night, a 16-8 win under the lights of Garber Field on Senior Night against Delaware in what was one of UMass’ most complete performances of the season.

The Minutemen’s offense put up 16 goals on Friday, 11 of which came from their seniors who were playing at Garber Field for the final times of their careers.

“That’s what we expect day in and day out,” Manny said of UMass’ performance on Friday. “That’s the kind of team we always are, but especially on Senior Night to see how excited everyone was for our seniors, especially us.

“We were excited for ourselves, we were looking forward to it. There’s nothing better than playing on Garber, it’s a night game too, so you can’t complain.”

Manny provided four goals against the Blue Hens, while Smith scored a double hat trick with six goals. Fleming also scored a goal in his final game at Garber Field.

Smith and Manny also had three assists apiece, and three of Smith’s helpers came on goals by Manny, while two of Manny’s assists aided goals by Smith.

It’s the sort of performance that their coach, Greg Cannella, likes to see.

“Yeah, you know you love to see that instant replay throughout the 14 games. Those guys were pretty special today,” he said.

Unfortunately for the Minutemen, that sort of chemistry between Smith and Manny has not been on full display this year like it was most of last season.

One of the main reasons for that was the injury that Manny suffered during UMass’ first game of the season, a 16-9 victory over Army on Feb. 9. Manny would go on to miss the next five games before returning for the Minutemen’s loss to Penn State on March 16.

Fleming also missed significant time early on with an injury, causing a rift in the chemistry that the seniors had solidified over their previous three seasons together.

But it all came together on Friday night for Manny and Smith in their final game together at Garber Field.

“I’ve been playing with him for four years,” Manny said of Smith. “He’s been my roommate in the dorms and I’ve lived with him for two years now. I’ve never had a better connection with someone.”
Manny pointed out that while both of them are known for their finishing on the lacrosse field, they also have the ability to distribute the ball and set up teammates for goals.

While this is a culmination of four years of playing at Garber Field for Manny, it carries even more significance and memories for Smith.

Smith’s father, Norm, played for UMass and both he and his dad used to go to games at Garber Field all the time as Kyle grew up in Longmeadow, which is roughly a 40-minute drive to Amherst.

After the game, it hadn’t sunk in for Kyle quite yet.

“It’s definitely pretty cool to go out on a win and have a solid game,” he said. “It hasn’t hit me yet, but when it does, I bet I’ll be a little nostalgic about it.”

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