Charlie O’Brien’s two-goal third quarter sparks comeback win for men’s lacrosse

O’Brien records his first goal and multi-goal game of the season

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Charlie O’Brien’s two-goal third quarter sparks comeback win for men’s lacrosse

Eva Trainer

Eva Trainer

Eva Trainer

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With Ben Spencer battling a lower leg injury, junior Charlie O’Brien stepped up big for the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team at midfield, scoring two third quarter goals to spark a come-from-behind win over Drexel, 10-9.

At the 8:38 mark in the third quarter, with UMass down 6-3, O’Brien head-faked his defender and drove right, sniping a goal past the Drexel goalie while on the run. Drexel answered just less than three minutes later with a goal from Reid Bowering, and O’Brien answered right back, again scoring unassisted while going to his right after flat-out beating his man.

“The first one they kind of hesitated to slide, so I just stepped in and shot it and luckily it went in,” said O’Brien.

“And the second one, I kind of bounced, and the crease slide showed to me, then he snapped back, and when he snapped back I thought I had a good opportunity to go. I went, the guy on the pipe faded towards Chris [Connolly] like they do a lot of the time, so I had a good shot to put it in, and luckily it went in.”

Usually employed as a defensive-minded midfielder and middleman for UMass’ transition game, O’Brien doesn’t rack up many offensive stats. In fact, until Saturday, he hadn’t scored a goal on the season and had only attempted seven shots.

O’Brien said that finally getting on the board was certainly nice, but that “I don’t really worry about points, I don’t worry about individual results.”

With just seconds left in the first half, Drexel heaved a last-ditch shot towards Sconone from its defensive end, and Matt Soran soared in the air to catch it. He was all alone in front of the net when he came down with it and scored an easy goal past Sconone.

It was a tough way to end the first half, but O’Brien’s two unassisted goals in the third helped keep the Minutemen afloat and inject some life into their comeback run.

“They’re huge,” said head coach Greg Cannella. “I mean, that’s the difference for us because you’re looking at everyone else… and here you go, you got a guy that scores his first two goals of the year in a clutch time, in a time when you really, really need somebody to make plays, and fortunately for us he’s on our team.”

In addition to his two third quarter goals, O’Brien played hard-nosed defense on the other end, causing a turnover and scooping three ground balls.

Having to go up against him in practice every day, Chris Connolly knows firsthand how stout of a defender O’Brien is.

“Dodging him in practice—it’s tough,” said Connolly, who added four goals on the afternoon. “He’ll strip you a lot…it’s definitely good to see and he gets us going on the offensive end for sure, as well.”

O’Brien’s two goals were sandwiched between one from Chris Connolly and one from Billy Philpott. At the end of three, the Minutemen had made it a one goal game, with Drexel leading 7-6 going into the fourth quarter.

The two teams began the fourth trading goals. Matthew Varian’s two strikes were answered by goals from Procyk and Trainor. Two minutes after the Trainor goal, Connolly scored a no-look, over-the-shoulder goal at the crease off a feed from Kevin Tobin. Then, with 5:58 left in the contest, Trainor put the dagger into Drexel with an unassisted strike after bulling his way through the defense.

The winners of six straight, UMass travels to Hofstra next Saturday as they continue CAA play.

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