UMass men’s lacrosse suffers OT loss to Army West Point

UMass drops season opener 12-11

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UMass men’s lacrosse suffers OT loss to Army West Point

(Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian)

By Grace Sherwood, Collegian Staff

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It was an explosive start to the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team’s season.

UMass (0-1) opened its season against Army West Point, an annual tradition that has occurred since 2011. In the past four years, the Minutemen have suffered losses to the Black Knights (1-0). Their losing streak continued, as the Minutemen fell in overtime, 12-11.

The Minutemen came out strong, holding a 27-13 shot advantage, seven of which were goals. Freshman Gabriel Procyk buried three of those goals, along with sophomore Chris Connolly, red-shirt junior Billy Philpott, junior Devin Spencer and sophomore Kevin Tobin to finish out the first half with a 7-6 lead.

In his first game as a Minuteman, Procyk racked up five points (four goals, one assist). Connolly registered seven points in two goals and five assists.

“Army’s a pretty good defense. It takes a lot of offense away,” coach Greg Canenella said. “You kind of have to rely on young guys, Procyk and [Connolly], to dodge and to score.”

The Minutemen owe credit to senior face-off specialist Tom Meyers, who dominated at the dot from the start. Meyers went 21-25, giving UMass opportunities to score right off the bat.

“When you have a day like that at the C, you know, it’s going to give you those extra possessions,” said Cannella. “It should help propel you to score more goals than we did, but we didn’t. You’ve got to give Army a lot more credit on defense.”

The Minutemen put up two more goals in the third, one from Procyk and another from senior Ben Spencer, while Army only managed to score one, bringing the Minutemen to a 9-7 lead into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter saw the Minutemen start to lose their footing.

“I definitely think that we could’ve done better job in the fourth quarter, we had a bunch of turnovers, we didn’t really have the ball too much,” said Connolly. “That’s on me, that’s on our offense. We definitely need to be better.”

Army scored four unanswered goals in the fourth, leaving UMass scrambling to chase a two-point deficit with 3:15 left in the game. But a goal from Devin Spencer brought the Minutemen within one.

“Any time you give the other team an opportunity, a window to take it from you you’re putting yourself in a bad spot,” Cannella said.

A holding penalty was called on Army with 16 seconds left in the game, giving UMass the leverage they needed to tie the game. With one second left in the game, Connolly sent the tying tally to the back of the net, sending the Minutemen into sudden death overtime.

“The guys showed a lot of heart to do that, especially in the last couple of minutes. It’s a real pressurized situation,” said Cannella. “I think the first goal [made us] realize, okay, we have three and a half minutes here we’ll be able to score again. But it does, it shows you something about what the group’s all about. They’re not afraid to make plays in that pressurized situation.”

Coming off an unbelievably exciting end to the fourth quarter, the Minutemen still needed to focus. Unfortunately, less than 40 seconds into overtime, Army freshman Brendan Nichtern buried it to win the game for the Black Knights 12-11.

“There’s a lot of teams who would fold, roll over, say game’s over, but that’s not us, that’s not who we are,” Connolly said. “We’re going to be a team who fights to the very end. Win or lose that game could’ve gone either way. So, we’re going to fight to the very end.”

UMass tries to get into the win column against Ohio State this upcoming Saturday at 1 p.m. at Garber Field.

Grace Sherwood can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @gshersports.