Minutemen overmatched against No. 1 Albany

UMass drops third straight

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Minutemen overmatched against No. 1 Albany

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

By Thomas Haines, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team surrendered a seven-goal run in the second quarter, burying any chance of an upset against top-ranked Albany and  going on to lose 19-8 on Tuesday afternoon at Garber Field.

UMass (1-4, 0-0 Colonial Athletic Association) was overmatched from the start, down three at the end of the first quarter leading into Albany’s decisive run. By the end of the third, Albany had a 14-goal lead before subbing out its goalie and other key players.

“They’re a run team,” coach Greg Cannella said. “We only get two timeouts; I called them both. When you’re not winning faceoffs, it’s really tough. We couldn’t get in any rhythm.”

The Albany attack was led by senior Connor Fields and freshman Tehoka Nanticoke, who each scored five goals and combined for 10 assists. While Fields and Nanticoke were in the game, one or both were involved in 14 of Albany’s 16 goals.

“No one has stopped those guys,” Cannella said. “Our plan was to try to limit those guys rather than stop them, because you don’t stop them. And obviously it didn’t work.”

Outside of Nanticoke and Fields, Albany’s attack was fueled by faceoff specialist T.D. Ierlan, who had only lost seven faceoffs on the year coming into the game. The Minutemen fared better than his previous opponents, winning six faceoffs off of Ierlan, who also came in with a streak of 36 consecutive face-offs won. Ierlan won the first two faceoffs of the game before UMass’ Noah Rak snapped the streak.

“It was a battle, is what I’ll say,” Rak said. “I knew he was going to be good off the ground, good at clamping, so I had to pretty much play my best game to compete with him. He edged me a little bit, but it was a good battle.”

Rak went 8-for-19 on faceoffs but alternated throughout the game with fellow faceoff specialist Tom Meyers, who went just 2-for-11.

Late in the second quarter, after Rak had won two straight faceoffs and keyed two quick UMass goals, Cannella sent out Meyers for the faceoff. Ierlan won that battle and Albany went on to score again before halftime.

“He was beating [Ierlan], so we kept him in for a little bit,” Rak said. “It gave a good look, too, different looks. It’s kind of like a chess match with the faceoffs, and [Meyers] does different moves.”

Late in the game, as the deficit grew for UMass, a scuffle erupted after a faceoff between Meyers and Ierlan. The brief fight resulted in five penalties between the two teams, including four minutes of penalties for Meyers.

“Just guys competing, that’s all,” Cannella said. “One guy hits a guy late, another guy runs in, hits a guy late, and the refs have to sort it out. Just competing. I don’t think it’s a big deal at all.”

Freshman Hampton Brannon made his starting debut for the Minutemen on Tuesday and made eight saves on 21 shots-on-goal. He was replaced by the former starter, junior Sean Sconone, at halftime.

“We didn’t hang [Brannon] out to dry, but they shoot the ball pretty well,” Cannella said. “We’re playing zone, and those guys can shoot the ball. [Sean] Eccles, and obviously Fields and Tehoka. Those guys shot it very well. He made eight saves, so he hung in there. [He] did a decent job, no doubt and Sean went in the second half and he did the same.”

Cannella said he didn’t know yet which goalie would start Saturday’s game against winless NJIT, the final matchup in a five-game homestand.

The loss to Albany is the third in a row for UMass and drops the Minutemen to 1-4, with three of those losses coming against ranked teams. The schedule gets easier down the stretch, as none of UMass’ next four opponents are above .500.

“You’d like to win a couple games or be in the games,” Cannella said. “We weren’t really in any of those games, which is a little disappointing for us as a team. But the takeaway is, we’re probably not going to play anybody as tough as those teams.”

Thomas Haines can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @thainessports.