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

Gabe Procyk continues hot start in loss to Ohio State

The freshman leads the team in goals with 7
(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

For the second straight year, it seems the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has itself a freshman phenom. In 2018, it was attackman Chris Connolly, who took home CAA Rookie of the Year honors and became the highest-scoring UMass freshman since Jeff Spooner in 1974. This year, it’s been Gabe Procyk, a native of British Columbia who had only limited experience playing field lacrosse before being recruited to UMass.

Procyk followed up a four-goal outing versus Army with a hat trick versus Ohio State on Saturday. The Minutemen lost the contest 11-7, but the duo of Procyk and Connolly was an encouraging bright spot. The pair played in high school together at the Trinity-Pawling School in New York, which helps explain the chemistry that the two have seemingly developed so quickly.

“They just feel comfortable with each other,” said head coach Greg Cannella. “Chris has done a good job, as I mentioned last week, done a good job of being able to feed the ball—last year he was more of a scorer and above-the-cage guy… and Gabe’s a great finisher. So, he caught a couple right inside and put them in the back of the net.”

About four minutes into the contest, Procyk jumpstarted the Minutemen’s scoring by punching in a rebound of a long-range shot attempt. The freshman’s next two goals came right in front of the crease off of feeds from Chris Connolly behind the net.

Goalkeeper Sean Sconone, who tied a career-high in saves with 20 on the afternoon, is fully aware of the freshman’s talent, which he has to face every day in practice. The senior captain expects the attackman “to step up into a leadership role for sure soon” in light of his exceptional back-to-back performances. Greg Cannella, on the other hand, is a bit more wary.

“You don’t want to count on it,” said Cannella of Procyk’s production. “You never want to count on those guys to—you never want to lean on them and put pressure on them that they have to contribute and score at that level each game, because you want them to be confident.”

Scott Del Zotto, Jeff Trainor, and Billy Philpott were responsible for the other four UMass goals of the afternoon. Trainor scored two goals, both unassisted, after speeding by his defender on both occasions to free up an open look. Philpott’s goal was also unassisted as he ducked and dived his way to the crease for the Minutemen’s only score of the second half.

With the Connolly-Procyk duo clicking and Trainor creating good looks for himself, it seemed UMass had achieved a balanced scoring attack before a sluggish third quarter slowed them down. Cannella believes his offense has to be more than one-dimensional going forward.

“We’re gonna need more contributions from those midfielders consistently, from Billy, Ben, Jeff, Tobin, Charlie O’Brien. Those guys that are getting consistent runs—we need more production from those guys for sure,” said Cannella. “Devin Spencer’s gotta score, and Chris—two assists, right—but he had a couple opportunities as well. Most teams are gonna count on those attackmen, they’re on the field the whole time, so you gotta count on them.”

UMass will look to rebound from its 0-2 start when it travels to Cambridge next Saturday to take on Harvard.

Ben Painchaud can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Ben_Painchaud.

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