Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men’s lacrosse ranked No. 18 after back-to-back wins against ranked opponents

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(Erica Lowenkron/ Daily Collegian)

(Erica Lowenkron/ Daily Collegian)

Ever since its upset victory over at the time No. 11 Ohio State, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team had been receiving votes to be nationally ranked in Inside Lacrosse’s Top 20 polls.

UMass’ (4-4) back-to-back victories against No. 10 North Carolina and No. 20 Penn State were enough to convince the committee to rank the Minutemen as the 18th ranked team in the country.

However, had you watched UMass’ 16-4 loss against Albany on March 8, you would be hard-pressed to believe that the Minutemen is worthy of a national ranking.  Since then, UMass outscored both the Tar Heels and Nittany Lions by a combined score of 25-18.

While a national ranking looks good on paper, Minutemen coach Greg Cannella takes it with a grain of salt. In an interview following the victory against Penn State, Cannella expressed that he does not believe in national rankings, rather spends more time focusing on UMass and what it can control.

“I think people who are doing that have no idea who you are or who the team is,” Cannella said. “I think it is more important to focus on yourself and not get caught up in that stuff.”

“You know the second you start thinking you’re good someone is going to knock you down,” Cannella added.

In his 22 years of coaching the Minutemen, Cannella has witnessed all different levels of success from all different teams. He attributes his attitude of rankings to the nature of the sport.

“I think it is a product of what college lacrosse is all about,” Cannella said. “Everyone in our schedule can beat us and everyone in our schedule we can beat them. But if you don’t come ready to play you’re going to get beat.”

According to Cannella, it is important that the mentality of his players does not change now that they are nationally ranked.

“It shouldn’t (have an impact on the teams attitude),” Cannella said. “I’m sure because of the media, because of online stuff, these guys are on their phones constantly and we ask them not to be. I’m sure it seeps in there and that’s something that all coaches are trying to protect themselves and protect their team from.”

Cannella says that the Minutemen need to understand that the rankings are just “opinions” and it is more important that they keep their focus on themselves.

“You have to look in the mirror and ask who are we, what are we all about; who are we going to be tomorrow,” Cannella said.

With half of the season already in the past, the Minutemen’s five remaining games will all be against Colonial Athletic Association teams.

With that said, the level of difficulty is not any lower than it has been all season. Aside from UMass, two other teams represent the CAA in the Top 20 poll, No. 9 Towson and No. 19 Hofstra.

The Minutemen fell to the Tigers twice last season, the latter of the two losses came in the CAA championship game, but defeated the Pride 9-7 in their only meeting.

Luckily for UMass, both games against Hofstra and Towson will be played at Garber field where the Minutemen are 3-2 (1-2 away).

UMass has a full two-week break from games between Penn State and Delaware, which will be played on April 2.

Cannella hopes that the team’s mentality does not change now that the schedule consists of strictly of CAA teams.

“Like I said, you can’t have a different attitude going into a non-league game than you do a league game,” Cannella said. “You want to go out there and play at the highest level you possibly can for each game.”

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

About the Writer
Philip Sanzo, Sports Editor
UMass’s depth and St. Joseph’s high scorer means Friday’s semifinal has potential for a possible shootout.
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