Towson upends UMass men’s lacrosse after scoring first six goals of the game

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team did not get off to an ideal start in Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association affair at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

No. 15-ranked Towson scored the first six goals of the game, holding a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and an 8-3 advantage at the half in besting the Minutemen (4-6, 1-1 CAA) 11-8. While UMass outscored the Tigers 5-3 in the second half, the Minutemen’s comeback effort was too little, too late.

“It was a good win for Towson,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “I thought they thoroughly outplayed us pretty much the entire game, but specifically in the first half. They did a nice job on the faceoff. We’re not used to losing that many faceoffs. [Towson player Alex] Woodall was very strong during that stretch in the first and through the second quarter.”

The Minutemen cut the Towson lead to three—the closest it had been since the first quarter—when Buddy Carr scored his first of two fourth quarter goals with 8:12 remaining in regulation. No less than 15 seconds later, the Tigers’ (6-3, 2-0 CAA) Zach Goodrich answered, extending the Towson lead back to four. Carr scored his 11th goal of the season and the final tally of the game in the waning minutes of the fourth.

After permitting eight first half goals, which is one off of his 9.33 goals against average on the season, starting goalkeeper D.J. Smith was relieved by Sean Sconone to start the second half. Sconone, last season’s starter for all of the Minutemen’s conference games, allowed three goals in the second half and stopped six Tiger shots. Smith made seven saves in the first half.

The move was one Cannella hoped would give his team, trailing by five goals at the intermission, a spark.

“Just a spark kind of thing,” he said. “D.J. Smith has been great. He’s our guy. He’ll start next week against Fairfield. We just felt we needed a spark so we figured we’d throw Sean in there. He did a nice job. Sean started for us last year in all the CAA games. He’s got some experience in there as well.”

UMass’ Dan Muller recorded his third career hat trick and his second of the season, upping his season total to 16 goals. Gianni Bianchin joined Muller and Carr as Minutemen who tallied multi-goal games. It was Bianchin’s first such game of the season, and he and Muller both converted man-up opportunities.

The Tigers also had three players register multi-goal performances, with seniors Joe Seider, Mike Lynch and redshirt sophomore Dylan Kinnear finding twine twice and ensuring the 1,006 in attendance would be sent home happy.

“Their seniors are outstanding,” Cannella said. “The seniors on attack and Lynch had a really good day. Obviously their short stick guys are really, really strong and [Tyler] Mayes is an outstanding player as well. They’re tough to score on. We couldn’t get anything going in the first half. Fortunately, we played a little bit better in the second half. Hopefully we can carry that over.”

Tyler Bogart added his team-leading 20th goal of the season on Jake Marino’s first assist of the season. Marino would add another on Carr’s second tally of the game late in the fourth quarter.

Faceoff specialist Noah Rak was 10-of-19 in the faceoff circle, his sixth consecutive game winning over half the draws. Rak added a team-high six groundballs in defeat.

“I thought we had transition opportunities throughout the second half that we didn’t connect on and then there was a few that we did connect on,” Cannella said of the team’s missed chances offensively, as UMass failed to score double-digit goals for the seventh time this season. “Maybe one of these days we’ll connect on all of them.”

The Minutemen return to Garber Field and continue their conference schedule on Sat., April 15, as UMass hosts Fairfield for a 1 p.m. start.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.