Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Connolly’s six goals push UMass men’s lacrosse over Hartford

Third straight win for the Minutemen

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Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

Caroline O'Connor/Daily Collegian

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team was able to extend its winning streak to three on Saturday, defeating Hartford 17-13 at Garber Field.

Freshman Chris Connolly led UMass (4-4) with six goals, while senior Buddy Carr contributed five. Senior Jake Lisauskas and sophomore Jeff Trainor each added a pair of goals.

The Minutemen offense had it going early, scoring 10 goals before the halfway point of the second quarter. Trailing by five goals, Hartford (2-4) would chip into the UMass lead, scoring four straight to bring them to within one with 12:23 left in the third quarter.

Just when it looked like the Hawks had all the momentum, Connolly scored two straight and Kevin Tobin followed behind with another goal to keep Hartford out of striking distance.

“We’re working really hard off the ball which is giving us good looks,” Connolly said. “Guys are ready to shoot the ball at all times and guys are ready to feed the ball as well. That’s really important in our offense and I think that’s why we’re finding success.”

The fourth quarter was a game of runs. Rion Davison scored the opening goal for the Hawks, but the Minutemen answered with a pair of goals off the sticks of Lisauskas and Carr.

Griffin Feiner then scored two in a row, his fifth and sixth of the game, followed by a goal from Justin Huggins to cut the UMass lead to two, but Trainor would score twice to secure the Minutemen win.

“Hartford is an explosive team,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “We knew that going in. We felt throughout the game we were a little up and down. We stretched it to 15-10 then let them back in. We failed two clears and they shoved it down our throats. You can’t have those mental lapses in a game or else teams are going to come back. That’s the way this game is.”

Feiner scored the opening goal of the game for Hartford, but UMass would go on a three goal run to take the early lead. The two teams would trade goals before the Minutemen went on another three goal run to take a 9-4 lead in the second quarter.

UMass was able to keep pressure on the Hawk defense throughout, taking 43 shots and putting 28 on net. Hartford took a total of just 28 shots in the game.

“We shot the ball into the goalie’s stick a few times and missed the cage a few times, but that’s going to happen when you take that many shots,” Cannella said. “If you can get 29 on goal, and typically what we tell our guys is you score on 50 percent of the shots you get on goal. We were probably a tad higher than that today but if you get them on, they’re going to go in.”

The six goals scored by Connolly were a season high, topping his four goal performance earlier in the year against Sacred Heart.

The freshman now has 14 goals and eight assists on the season, and credits his teammates for the confidence he has been able to build.

“I’ve got so much trust in the guys around me, either giving them the ball or them getting me the ball,” Connolly said. “They get me going and I get them going and that’s really where the confidence builds.”

Cannella has been able to trust Connolly on the field due to his finishing ability. The six goals came on nine shots, giving him a .667 shooting percentage for the game.

“The chances came to him and he finished them,” Cannella said. “He did a nice job, that’s the difference as an attackman—he got nine shots today—you may get six or seven shots and if you score on three or four of them you look really good. For the attackman, you should be above 40 percent in your shooting percentage, Chris finished his opportunities today.”

The Minutemen are back in action Saturday, traveling to Providence, Rhode Island to take on Brown.

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

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