UMass men’s lacrosse’s late rally falls short against Harvard

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Jake Marino (24) on the 2/11 game against Army at Garber Field. (Chris O’Keefe/Daily Collegian)

Getting off to a good start is important in every sports game, and the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team experienced that first-hand Saturday. The Minutemen were never able to overcome a four-goal deficit after the first quarter, falling to Harvard 11-7 in Cambridge.

Falling behind 4-0 after the first 15 minutes, UMass (0-3) was stuck digging itself out of a deep hole. With five minutes, six seconds remaining in the game, senior attackman Grant Consolletti scored a man-up goal to make the score 8-7, but that was as close as the Minutemen would come.

Harvard (3-0) would answer less than two minutes later to extend its lead on a Ryan Graff goal, as the Crimson scored twice more in the final two minutes, one goal an empty-net goal to cap off the afternoon.

“We played poorly early, defensively and on offense,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said after the game. “We turned the ball over a bunch on offense unforced. We didn’t shoot it particularly well early in the game and their goalie was really good today.”

Cannella added, “We settled in and turned it on there in the third quarter and played a little more like we should. [We] got it to 8-7 with five minutes to go and had a couple chances to tie up but didn’t do it. They’re a very good team so we kind of gave it to them at the end with an extra man goal and an open net goal.”

Cannella sees the slow start his team had as something that the Minutemen need to fix on their own. Getting off to a sluggish start against Army West Point and going down four goals in the first period against a team like Harvard makes the climb to victory infinitely steeper, and he knows that this can’t continue for his team.

“That’s a hard thing, these guys have to be able to do that on their own,” Cannella said. “We prepare the guys the best we can and when the game starts they have to perform and go out there. We’ll support them and try to make adjustments throughout the game but there’s really no excuse for not being ready to play early in games.”

“You’re playing Division I and you’re playing an opponent like Harvard who is very good, you have to be fired up,” Cannella added. “We have to artificially encourage that, trust me we do, but ultimately it comes from within.”

Trailing 5-1 at halftime, UMass made a run in the second half with sophomore attacker Tyler Bogart scoring two goals late in the third quarter. The Minutemen cut the deficit 7-6 after a Dom St. Laurent goal with 10:06 remaining, however Morgan Cheek scored what would be the game-winning goal for Harvard with 5:34 left to end their comeback hopes.

UMass struggled to contain Cheek throughout the game. Cheek scored or assisted on each goal in the first quarter and finished the game with nine points (four goals, five assists). He has 11 goals and 10 assists through three games this year.

“[Cheek is] a really dynamic player in terms of being strong righty and lefty, being a great finisher and also a great feeder,” Cannella said. Especially down the stretch, he made two fantastic plays. There’s no way around that, you have to do a good job defending him and we didn’t do a good enough job today.”

Bogart led the Minutemen with two goals on seven shots. Luc Valenza grabbed four groundballs, while Tom Meyers, Isaac Paparo and Dylan Gruder each had three. One positive for UMass was in the faceoff circle where Meyers won 14-of-21 faceoffs on the day.

Aside from Creek, Harvard got a big game from goalkeeper Robert Shaw, who made 21 saves in the win.

The Minutemen will attempt to get their first win of the season Wednesday as they travel to Albany to take on the Great Danes.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on twitter @TJ__Johnston.