UMass men’s lacrosse to face an explosive offensive team in Ohio State on Saturday

Buckeyes are averaging 14.5 goals per game on the year

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UMass men’s lacrosse to face an explosive offensive team in Ohio State on Saturday

Eva Trainer/Collegian

Eva Trainer/Collegian

Eva Trainer/Collegian

Eva Trainer/Collegian

By Ben Painchaud, Collegian Staff

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After being knocked out of the top 20 following its loss to Army last Saturday, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team has a chance to secure a statement win this Saturday when it hosts No. 12 Ohio State at Garber Field.

While it is important to seize every game from the get-go, it will be especially critical for the Minutemen (0-1) to stifle Ohio State early on this Saturday. So far this year, the Buckeyes are outscoring opponents 10-3 in the first quarter.

“They’re a hard-charging group from the first whistle to the last whistle, so you have to be ready for sure,” said coach Greg Cannella.

The Buckeyes are led by Tre Leclaire and Jack Jasinski, who together have already racked up a combined 18 points on 15 goals and three assists. Cannella believes that the versatility, playmaking and speed of this pair, coupled with the shooting and skill of their supporting cast, could give UMass problems on Saturday.

“You’ll see guys that play midfield and attack,” Cannella said. “Tre Leclaire is probably one of the better attackmen in the country in terms of doing everything—dodging, scoring, shooting, big body. This kid Jasinski, who’s a smaller kid, is probably for anybody, not just us, a very difficult matchup. He’s outstanding in terms of his ability to dodge, to dump it, dodge to score it, super quick, super fast.

“And I think they have a lot of guys that are very skilled, so that’s why—you get one person to slide, they move the ball two or three times, which they can. And they’ve got nine guys that’ve scored for them this year, so you’ve got guys that can shoot it with range makes a difference.”

UMass and Ohio State are both very good ground ball teams. The Minutemen beat Army 40 to 22 on ground balls, and the Buckeyes grabbed 72 to their opponents’ 49 on such plays. For sophomore attack Chris Connolly, both teams’ aggressiveness in this area indicates that Saturday should be an especially physical contest, which could affect the high-powered Buckeyes’ ability to settle into a groove.

“We’re going to go at them, we’re not going to take anything from them just because of who they are,” said Connolly. “We’re going to scrap it up for sure.”

“They are very athletic, very fast, very aggressive group, so I wouldn’t expect anything less,” added Cannella.

Against Army, UMass was limited in transition, especially when the Black Knights “twinned” the face off—that is, put two long-poles up on it, as Cannella explained. While UMass is a superior face off team on paper—Ohio State is 31-of-55 on face offs this year, wile UMass is 21-of-25—the Minutemen are prepared to create more transition looks when, as Connolly puts it, they go “backward” following face offs.

“If we go backward, we’re definitely going to have to get the goalie involved and try and get some transition, move it up the field,” Connolly said. “We’ve been working on some stuff this week to help us with that, so I think we’re going to be ready for whatever they throw at us.”

With Ohio State being such an explosive team, it will be important for the Minutemen to not just make stops on the defensive end, but turn those quality possessions into attacking opportunities on offense.

The game is set to commence at 1 pm at Garber Field.

Ben Painchaud can be reached at [email protected]