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

Goalkeeper Zach Oliveri, UMass men’s lacrosse show promise in loss to Towson after 14-day hiatus

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

The groundwork had been laid for a would-be classic.

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team matched visiting Towson with aggressive defense and hustle, keeping a 1-1 tie until the final minute of the first quarter on Saturday.

But 39 seconds was all it took for the bubble to pop.

Tigers midfielder Greg Cuccinello netted two goals at the 44 and five-second mark for a 3-1 score to end the frame. It was a wake-up call for UMass in its first game back after 14 days of rest.

The Minutemen relied on the strength of their defense, including goalkeeper Zach Oliveri, and fought back for a one-goal deficit on four separate occasions, but lost, 6-5.

UMass coach Greg Cannella expected the Tigers to slow down the pace of the game like they did. He feels his team countered well to the style change and said the matchup was a showcase of two good teams playing hard.

“We’re disappointed because we felt we had opportunities to score and we didn’t,” Cannella said. “Our guys will be pissed about it when they watch the film and the coaches will be as well.”

Freshman attack Nick Mariano paced the Minutemen early in the contest with persistent play that forced multiple turnovers. UMass forced five in the first quarter and nine overall. The Minutemen also held a 24-22 edge in ground balls, which disrupted the Tiger’s offensive flow at crucial points in the first half.

Mariano said that hustle plays like ground balls and forced turnovers were a  focus after the coaches said there wasn’t enough of that in last year’s 9-5 loss to Towson.

He admitted that a shark-like attitude was difficult to establish immediately since UMass hasn’t faced an opponent since March 22, a 12-6 win over Hartford. The conflict between his willpower and body caused frustration.

“We played five games in two weeks,” Mariano said of the stretch starting with Albany (March 8) and ending with Hartford. “Trying to come off a two-week break is hard. We were playing a little sloppy in the first half, and in the second half we kind of picked it up, but not enough.”

Oliveri said his coaches told the team it would be a one-goal game. He added that every conference game is a battle and he was proud of his team’s effort despite the loss.

The netminder made 13 stops, including athletic dives and two point blank saves within the final two minutes of both the third and four quarters respectively. He was also aided by the goal post a few times, though he couldn’t hear the ping on the Garber Field nets.

“I loved the energy, I loved the intensity,” Oliveri said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get this one, but every day is an opportunity, every day is a blessing to be out here. We’ve just got to get back to work on Monday.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @petecapps.

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