UMass men’s lacrosse fails to clinch playoff berth in 15-7 romp by Delaware

By Peter Cappiello

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian
Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

It wasn’t Connor Mooney’s shot itself that was notable with 3:53 left in the first quarter, it was the shock factor: that was the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team’s first ball on cage.

With the fourth and final Colonial Athletic Association playoff seed reserved for the game’s winner, Delaware charged out of the gate on a 6-0 run at home on Friday. The Blue Hens paced the contest all over the field, notably on the draw (16-for-25) and on 50/50 opportunities (35), en route to a 15-7 romp to end the Minutemen’s season.

Simply put, UMass (7-6, 1-4 CAA) got crushed.

“From the first minute to the last minute,” confirmed UMass coach Greg Cannella. “We were never in the game. We didn’t win any faceoffs, we didn’t get any ground balls, we didn’t play any defense, we didn’t make any saves and score any goals in the first quarter.”

Delaware (7-8, 1-4 CAA) junior midfielder Tom Holland terrorized the Minutemen with five goals on the night, including the game’s first. He was tied with Beau Jones, a junior midfielder, for the team high in shots with nine. Jones scored a hat trick in the first half.

UMass face-off specialist Joe Calvello struggled on the draw, losing his first four tries to Tyler Barbarich, who dominated the matchup. When the Minutemen had possession, a Blue Hens zone defense proved troublesome through most of the contest.

The game’s flow temporarily changed in the second quarter when Barbarich left the match after a hit by Kyle Karaska and Calvello exited following a check by John O’Connor. With Charlie Schatz up against Delaware’s Tyler Mardian, the Minutemen cut the deficit to 7-4 on a goal by Nick Mariano with 3:25 until halftime.

Mariano, who led UMass in scoring with five points (three goals), brought the score within three again (9-6) on a man-up goal more than halfway through the third quarter, but Holland promptly kicked off a four-goal run for Delaware.

“We just couldn’t catch and throw and that’s the main point of the game,” Mariano said. “We kind of slacked on that. It sucks, but it happens.”

Mooney added that time on attack was crucial to the Blue Hens’ success. The senior had a goal in each half to go along with two assists, bringing his career total to 99 points. When informed of the near-milestone, he said that results are his focus rather than statistics.

“We had some costly turnovers,” Mooney said after his final collegiate appearance. “We weren’t shooting the ball great on offense and just gave them extra possessions. They were dodging hard to score. They just had a lot more intensity.”

Mooney added that while he’s disappointed with the game’s finish, he doesn’t have any regrets during him time in Amherst because he “brought it all every day on the field.”

Mariano said the postgame experience of seeing seniors walk off the field for the final time was an “eye-opener.” He realized the depth that the program had influenced his teammates.

“It’s rough, especially on (underclassmen),” Mariano said. “I hate that they have to go out like this. I definitely didn’t want that at all. I feel really bad for them, but I have to make more fuel with fire for next year.”

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