UMass men’s lacrosse offense struggles in opening game 9-2 loss to Army

By Jamie Cushman

Dom St. Laurent (39) with the ball during Saturday’s game against Army West Point. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

It sounds obvious, but you need to score goals to win games, and the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team found that out the hard way in a 9-2 loss to Army West Point at home in the season opener on Saturday.

UMass (0-1) struggled at times to create scoring chances, and when they did have opportunities, they couldn’t bury a shot.

“At times we couldn’t beat a short stick, we couldn’t finish the ball when we had our opportunities, and that’s what the name of this game is, especially when you play a good opponent, you have to score,” Minutemen coach Greg Cannella said.

“You can’t let them score two goals and expect to be in any game you ever play,” he added. “It’s not going to be 3-2 in lacrosse games, so I’m a little disappointed in terms of the offensive output, for sure.”

Despite the slow start—UMass trailed 6-0 with over five minutes left in the 2nd quarter—Canella thought the Minutemen could still work themselves back into the game if they had taken advantage of the openings Army gave them.

“We had our chances, right? It’s 6-1, 7-1, even at 7-1 you still have three, four, five chances, two or three of those go in and maybe you’re in the game, but they didn’t, and we weren’t,” Canella said.

Senior Gianni Bianchin, who scored UMass’ first goal, agreed with his coach.

“We had some good chances, like we should have buried the ball, we missed some opportunities, but I think it’s all a learning experience and we’ve got to move onto the next week,” Bianchin said.

The Minutemen tried to work the side of the field and attack from the wing, a strategy known as “wing dodging,” but mostly failed to convert on the scoring chances they could manage to generate, with a number of shots going just wide of the cage.

Redshirt senior Dan Muller tallied a goal using this strategy when he scored with 3:27 left in the game. Muller came in deep from the wing, beat his man, and then put a shot off the post and into the cage.

“He had a short stick on him and he got under the guy, and again, we didn’t do that [enough],” Cannella said. “The short sticks are the ones that you have to beat…when you get those opportunities, you’ve got to win the matchup. We didn’t win the matchup, but on that one he did and scored it.”

UMass also could not take advantage of the Black Knight’s penalties, going 0-for-3 in man-up opportunities on the day.

“Yeah, I thought we stunk. Stiff. The second one we had two or three chances and we didn’t hit the goal, we didn’t take advantage of it, we looked tentative,” Canella said.

Canella lamented the Minutemen’s mistakes specifically during their second man-up opportunity, a minute-long chance in the second quarter after a slashing penalty.

“You get on the inside and you don’t finish it. Buddy Carr comes around the cage and doesn’t finish the ball. Dan Muller step-down shot and he drops the ball before he catches it,” Cannella said.

Cannella said he wants UMass to score around 40 percent of the time during man-up opportunities, which they clearly failed to do against Army.

The Minutemen will look to find the back of the cage more often when they return to action on Saturday in a road game at Ohio State.

Jamie Cushman can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Jamie__Cushman.