UMass men’s lacrosse drops defensive battle at Towson

By Cameron McDonough

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

For the first half of the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team’s game against Towson on Saturday, the Minutemen were entrenched in a defensive battle with the Tigers.

But the UMass defense couldn’t keep the Towson offense at bay any longer as the Tigers outscored the Minutemen 7-4 over the next 30 minutes en route to a 9-5 win.

Towson (7-5, 3-0 Colonial Athletic Association) began the second half on a 4-0 run, which helped it extend its lead to 6-1 with three minutes left in the third quarter. The Tigers spread around the scoring during this stretch with goals by four different players.

Devin Grimaldi began the stretch with a goal, which was assisted by Robby Zoppo, then Towson scored a pair of unassisted goals on shots by Greg Cuccinello and Zoppo before Ben McCarty scored the final goal of the stretch, which was also assisted by Zoppo.

“They deserve to win, their playmakers made plays in that stretch there in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said in a postgame interview with UMass Athletics.

Matt Whippen stopped the bleeding momentarily for UMass (5-6, 0-3 CAA) with an unassisted goal with 1:38 remaining in the third.

But the Tigers opened up the fourth quarter with a 3-0 run on a pair of goals by Grimaldi and a goal by Cuccinello to take a commanding 9-2 lead.

UMass put together a run of its own late in the fourth as Will Manny, Connor Mooney and Colin Fleming scored goals during a 3-0 run to end the game, but it proved to be too little, too late.

After neither team scored in the first quarter, the Tigers’ Cory Dobyns scored the game’s first goal with 12:40 remaining in the second quarter.

The two teams then traded a pair of goals on shots by the Minutemen’s Kyle Smith and Towson’s Thomas DeNapoli. As a result, the Tigers took a 2-1 lead into the break.

“I would love to say it was a barn burner of a game, but it wasn’t, especially in the first half, it kind of dragged along,” Cannella said during the press conference. “Both teams played well defensively. Both goalies played well early in the game and Towson today was tougher, they earned the win.”

The play was also sloppy at times, especially during the first half. UMass committed 11 turnovers, six of which came in the first half.

The Minutemen also had their chances to score as they outshot the Tigers, 40-35, but they were unable to convert on their chances.

“There were a lot of turnovers,” Cannella said during the press conference. “I’m not sure both teams shot the ball very well in the first half, certainly we did not shoot the ball very well in the first half. Sometimes it’s the way it goes.”

One of the reasons why UMass was unable to convert on its opportunities was the play of Towson’s goalie Andrew Wascavage, who made 20 saves during the game.

The Minutemen’s defense also played well, especially goalie Zachary Oliveri, who made 10 saves in a losing effort.

“The strength of both of these teams is defense and obviously for Towson it’s also goaltending,” Cannella said. “Our guy’s (Oliveri) a young guy who’s improving every day and had a good day today.”

There was a bit of good news for UMass on Saturday, as Manny became the 10th player in the team’s history to record 100 goals with his unassisted goal late in the game.

The road will not get any easier for the Minutemen as they will host No. 12 Drexel at 1 p.m. next Saturday.

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