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 men’s lacrosse looks to build on three-game winning streak against Brown

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

After a rough 0-4 start to the season, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has found its groove, winning its last three games. It will look to continue that streak Saturday, taking on Brown at Garber Field.

If UMass (3-4) wants to keep the winning streak going, it knows defense will be the key. The Bears (3-3, 1-0 Ivy League) enter the game as the second highest-scoring team in the country, averaging 16.33 goals per game.

Brown is led offensively by senior attacker Dylan Molloy. Molloy, who won the Tewaaraton award last season, is the country’s leading scorer, averaging four goals a game on the season. The 6’, 220-pound bruiser is also tied for eighth in assists in the country, averaging 2.33 per game.

“He’s a great, great, great player,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said of Molloy. “It’s going to be very hard to eliminate him. You want to try to limit him, but even that is tough.”

The Bears attack is one that involves getting as many shots on cage as they can. They average 47.2 shots-per game, and are shooting at 34.6 percent. They look to push the ball in transition in an attempt to create more offensive opportunities. Cannella hopes his team can combat this aggressive attack by keeping the ball out of their sticks.

“It’s not always the defense. Hopefully you can win faceoffs and gain some extra possessions there. If their goalie is making saves, they’re going to be able to go in transition. This is a real good transition group. They get the ball out and they want to get a shot every time the ball goes over the midfield line and do that quickly.”

“Hopefully we can put the ball in the back of the net and prevent saves and win some faceoffs to get extra possessions,” Cannella continued.

One change to the Minutemen defense has been the position switch by sophomore Isaac Paparo. Paparo changed from long-stick midfield to close defense, and says the transition has been smooth due to his experience playing close defense in high school. Paparo knows the UMass defense will need to stay in line and do its job against the Bears offense.

“We need to play really disciplined,” Paparo said. “They create a lot of opportunities for themselves. They push it in transition. We have to be fundamentally sound and not give them extra opportunities. We have to stick to the game plan that assistant coach McDonald has put in place for us.”

When the Minutemen offense is in a groove, they have been tough to beat. In their four losses of the season, they averaged six goals per game. In the three wins, they have averaged 11 goals per game. Cannella says he has not made many tactical adjustments to the offense, rather the players have simply found their individual roles within the offense, which allows the group to succeed as a whole.

“The guys are a little more aggressive and shooting the ball a little better,” Cannella said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well the first four games. Those guys are playing more together, they found what their roles may be within the offense and guys are trying to play the best in that role. It’s more of an attitude than anything. We didn’t really change much.”

Paparo feels that the biggest change within the offense has been their expanded communication on the field.

“They’ve talked more,” Paparo said. “They’re talking to each other on the field, they’re talking to coaches and moving the ball better on the field.”

The UMass win streak will be put to the test, with game time set for noon this Saturday in Amherst.

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected].

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