Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s lacrosse earns first road win of 2016 against No. 20 Penn State

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(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

(Shannon Broderick/Daily Collegian)

After a rough first quarter in which No. 20 Penn State scored four times, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team appeared to be en route to another difficult loss, similar to its   16-4 loss against Albany on March 8.

Instead, the Minutemen (4-4) cracked down defensively, got hot on offense and earned their second straight win over a ranked opponent, beating the Nittany Lions 11-9 Saturday afternoon.

“It was a hard fought win,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “Penn State is a really good team. (We) didn’t get off to a great start in the game, but we steadily improved throughout the game and finally won a road game, which eluded us the first two games that we played on the road…We’re fortunate to be able to do that.”

For the Minutemen, the offense really came alive in the second period. They scored a pair of goals in the first five minutes of the quarter from Ben Spencer and Brendan Hegarty to tie the game 4-4. After Penn State (5-3) scored another courtesy of Grant Ament with seven minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the second period, UMass answered with another pair of goals, this time from Jake Lisauskas and Dan Muller to take a 6-5 lead into halftime.

Buddy Carr led the Minutemen offensively, tallying three goals for his third hat trick of the season. Muller and Spencer each added a pair of goals as well.

“Buddy’s been consistent over the last few games here, and shot the ball very well,” Cannella said.

The Nittany Lions jumped out to the early lead with four goals in the first quarter, but its offense spurted the rest of the game, tallying just five more goals over the final 45 minutes.

Junior Mike Sutton tallied a hat trick just with 2:09 remaining in the opening quarter doing so on just three shots. Ament also powered the Penn State offensive, scoring twice and tallying four assists for a game-high six points.

“They’re both talented players, really a team full of talented players, so defensively we did a nice job with them,” Cannella said.

Another key to the victory for the Minutemen was their domination in the face-off circle, winning 16-of-24.

“Tommy (Meyers) took them all and he was excellent on the draw, was able to maintain possession and the wing play was very good as well, so that was obviously a big part of the game,” Cannella said.

Sophomore Dan Dolan earned the start in net and played a full 60 minutes for the second straight game after splitting time with junior D.J. Smith fairly evenly for the first six games of the season.

Dolan tallied only four saves, however one of those saves came when UMass needed it most. With just 35 seconds to play, Dolan stopped TJ Sanders’ shot, keeping UMass ahead by two goals.

With wins over ranked opponents the past two games, in addition to a win over the then No. 11 Ohio State earlier in the season, the Minutemen could find themselves among the ranked teams in the upcoming poll after receiving votes the previous week.

The victories over ranked opponents and the possibility of being ranked themselves do not matter to Cannella nearly as much as the performance he sees on the field.

“I don’t really believe in the rankings, honestly, but (if) you go out there and you play hard each and every time out, and you stick together, fight through the ups and downs of the games, (then) you’re going to be successful regardless of what the scoreboard said at the end of the day,” Cannella said.

The Minutemen now have a two-week break until their next game when they travel to Delaware on April 2 for the first game of the Colonial Athletic Association schedule.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected].

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