Isaac Paparo set to lead 19th-ranked UMass men’s lacrosse

The long-stick senior will be a co-captain alongside Anthony Reale and Sean Sconone

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Isaac Paparo set to lead 19th-ranked UMass men’s lacrosse

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Ben Painchaud, Collegian Staff

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In just three days, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team will open up its season at home against Army, and senior captain Isaac Paparo is excited for a fresh new season.

“It’s a totally different experience because it’s a totally different team, and that’s the way it’s been the past four years,” said Paparo, the reigning CAA Player of the Year. “Every year is a new team.”

Last season, Paparo became just the third player under head coach Greg Cannella to be named a captain as a junior, giving Paparo a unique opportunity to be a peer resource for newly-elected co-captains Anthony Reale and Sean Sconone.

“We’ve got a good dynamic,” Paparo said. “Three different personalities… Sean brings a kind of good energy, friends with everyone, he’s the goalie, so he’s got that demanding presence and he’s able to connect with a lot of the guys on the team, whereas Anthony—he’s very mature, he sees it from a great perspective. I mean, he’s just a born leader. And I think I come down on kids a little harder than them but, like I said, that’s why everyone’s got a different personality and why that dynamic works.”

Despite a range of preseason awards, including being named preseason CAA co-POY and third team Inside Lacrosse Preseason All-American, Paparo is far from worried about all the accolades being associated with his name.

“I try not to listen to the hype outside of our locker room,” Paparo said, “because the only thing that matters is the culture that we’re building.”

Though Paparo believes the younger and more inexperienced players still have a long way to go in their development, coach Greg Cannella is impressed with what Paparo and the team’s other leaders have done to accommodate the newbies and bring the team together.

“All the young guys live in Prince, right, and Hampshire Dining Commons is right in front of it,” Cannella said. “All of our guys, all of our older guys, are coming back and they eat at Hamp, or they eat at Berkshire, they eat constantly with the younger guys. And they’ve done a good job of trying to get them up to speed and what UMass lacrosse is all about.”

Already known as a run-and-gun kind of team, the Minutemen expect to play at an even faster pace this season with the NCAA recently imposing an 80-second shot clock. Now, teams will have only 20 seconds to advance the ball past midfield.

After leading CAA defensemen in scoring last season, Paparo figures to continue playing an integral role in the Minutemen’s offense, especially now that there is an even greater emphasis on pushing the pace quickly after defending opponents’ offensive possessions.

“I mean, we’ve played that style, the up-and-down style, for a couple of years now,” Cannella said. “And Isaac’s been a catalyst of that, and hopefully he can continue to do what he did last year.”

“As long as we make saves and do our job on the defensive end, we’ll be able to get up in transition, which is what we’re trying to do and, you know, we want to play fast,” added Paparo. “So if my opportunities are there, my teammates are counting on me to cash in, and I’m counting on them to cash in as well,”

In addition to notching 13 points on the season, Paparo added 45 ground balls and 25 forced turnovers as well, making him a unique impact player on both ends. Greg Cannella is confident in his defensive unit with Paparo leading it.

“We’re going to start with a junior, a sophomore and Isaac, right,” Cannella said. “And you have Sean [Sconone at goalie.] And so I think he has been a very strong leader for those guys, and a guy that can run the show and help those guys feel more comfortable playing.”

UMass and Army are set to face off at 1 p.m. at Garber Field.

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