The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team is riding high on a five-game win streak, and will look to add to the streak Saturday as it takes on Delaware.
After a slow start to the season, the Minutemen (6-4, 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association) have found their footing. Offensively, UMass is ranked 12th in the country, averaging 12 goals per game. The Minutemen have relied on a balanced attack, with five players scoring double-digit goals already this season.
Senior Buddy Carr leads UMass in goals (24), while freshman Chris Connolly (17), sophomore Jeff Trainor (16), senior Jake Lisauskas (12) and freshman Devin Spencer (12) have all been able to find the back of the net on a consistent basis. The offense has been on a tear throughout the winning streak, averaging 14.4 goals per game during it.
The Minutemen are playing their best lacrosse at the perfect time. They opened CAA play last week with a fourth quarter comeback win over Drexel, showing fight and resiliency to get the victory. Trailing by one in the fourth, Spencer was able to knot the game at 10, and just minutes later his brother, Ben Spencer, scored what would ultimately be the game-winning goal.
Conference games are typically hard fought and the winning team tends to be the one who can be mentally tough down the stretch–UMass proved Saturday that they have the ability to do that.
“You hope that guys have confidence if they get in that situation again,” Cannella said. “They know they have the ability to come back and play well down the stretch. Whether you do the same thing you did or whether you battled and continuing to battle is what’s most important.”
Cannella knows that there is always the chance that a team gets overconfident on a win streak, but he believes his team won’t take any opponent lightly.
“I don’t see it with our guys but there always is [a fear of getting overconfident],” Cannella said. “When you win, people tend to exhale. When you lose, people get focused. That’s how sports are. We try to do our best as coaches to let them know that this is the most important game because it’s the next one on the schedule.
“Every game is important, it’s not because it’s Delaware, it’s not because it’s someone else, it’s because it’s the next game,” he continued. “If you don’t get ready and you feel like you’re all set, you’re going to get your butt kicked.”
The Blue Hens (4-5, 1-0 CAA) opened their season by winning their first three games, then hit a rough patch where they dropped five in a row. They were able to get back in the win column in their first conference game, though, defeating Fairfield 11-10.
When the Minutemen and Delaware met last year, UMass was able to come away with the tight win. Both teams traded goals throughout the game, but the Minutemen were able to break away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Blue Hens 4-1 to take a 9-6 victory.
Delaware sits right behind the Minutemen in CAA team scoring, putting in just under 11 goals per game. The two teams are also first and second in the CAA in shots taken per game. With both teams sporting powerful offenses, Saturday’s game could turn into a shootout.
“It’s like every other week,” Cannella said. “Guys are getting ready for Delaware, a very good team with tremendous athletes, well coached, on the road seeing their senior day. We are just trying to get ourselves ready to play.”
The game is set to begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in Newark, Delaware.
Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.