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

UMass lacrosse heads to Hartford for nonconference action

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)
(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Last season, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team owned a 6-2 record when it defeated a 3-4 Hartford team 12-6 at Garber Field.

On Saturday, the two teams will square off again, but this time, with the roles reversed.

The Minutemen (3-7, 1-2 Colonial Athletic Association) have lost their last two games, while the Hawks (6-4, 3-1 America East) are winners of three straight.

UMass coach Greg Cannella is aware of Hartford’s recent successes, and knows the opposition will be out for revenge.

“They’re having a great year,” he said. They’re 3-1 in the conference and had a big win over UMBC last weekend, so they’ll bring a lot of energy and confidence into this game, and will be very hungry to knock us off.”

The Minutemen will be tasked with trying to contain Hawks senior attack man Kevin O’Shea, who has recorded 32 points this season, including 19 goals.

When asked what his defense will have to do to limit the number of chances O’Shea and Co. are able to get, Cannella said UMass will simply have to play well.

“(O’Shea) is one of the best players not only in the America East conference, but in all of lacrosse,” he added. “They have a really good young group of attack men and some veteran midfielders.

“Our guys are going to have to play well, especially Zach (Oliveri) in the cage.”

Oliveri, who made eight saves in the Minutemen’s latest defeat versus Fairfield, knows what O’Shea is capable of, but knows he’s not the only one who can find the back of the cage.

“O’Shea is a great player, but they have other players too that pose threats, so we’ve got to just prepare and be ready,” he said.

“We have a really good group on the defensive end, which has done a lot of great things. Ryan (Izzo), Brendan (Schroeder) Kyle (Karaska), Bob (Fahey) and Kevin (Porzelt) are doing a great job, so I think we just have to play a full game.”

This year, the first quarter has not been kind to either team. UMass is being outscored 29-19, while Hartford has been outscored by the exact same margin. With both teams struggling early on, the opening 15 minutes will play a crucial role in setting the tone for the game.

“I think every game it’s important for us to get out to a good start,” Cannella said. “When we have gotten out to a decent start, we’ve been in most of the games and when we haven’t, we’ve struggled.”

Like his coach, Oliveri recognized the importance of a fast start away from home.

“It’s always important to start playing at a high level and finishing at a high level, you want to play a complete game,” he said. “Especially on the road against a great team, you always want to come out ready to play and play consistently throughout the entire game.

“We have to play with energy and a lot of emotion, but it really comes down to being able to execute,” Oliveri added. “They’re a great team and are going to come out ready to play, so we’ll have to match their intensity.”

Despite this game coming in the thick of conference play, both Cannella and Oliveri agreed this game presents a good opportunity to get back on track after the team’s latest skid.

“It’s obvious you never want to lose two straight,” Oliveri said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity just to get ourselves ready to play at a high level against a very good Hartford team, and then hopefully that will carry over later into the season.”

Added Cannella, “I think every time you play is a good opportunity, especially after a loss.”

Opening faceoff will be at 2 p.m. at Al-Marzook Field in West Hartford.

Jason Kates can be reached at [email protected] and followed @Jason_Kates.

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