UMass holds on for upset of No. 1 Yale

UMass outscored Yale 11-2 in the first half

By Noah Bortle, Assistant Sports Editor

With an upset in its sights, the Massachusetts lacrosse team endured a barrage of goals by No.1 Yale and held on for a 13-10 win.

The win marked UMass’ (3-2) first win over a No. 1 team in program history.

“Great energy, great enthusiasm, great attitude,” coach Greg Cannella said. “That kind of carries us. If you see us and we don’t have energy and we’re not enthusiastic about playing, we’re not going to play well.”

With a nine-goal deficit at the half, the Bulldogs (2-1) clawed their way back in the second half on the back of TD Ierlan’s dominance on faceoffs. With Ierlan winning Yale possession after possession, Bulldogs attackers were able to pepper UMass goalie Matt Knote with 22 second-half shots.

Four unanswered goals by Yale to start the second half brought the score to 11-6 before the Minutemen responded with 2:32 left in the third quarter to stretch the lead back to 12-6.

“We just told our guys, ‘Keep fighting, keep digging in,” Cannella said. “You knew they were going to [come back], they’re that good of a team.”

“When you jump out with a lead like that, you know that they’re going to throw a punch in the third quarter, and they did,” midfielder Jeff Trainor said. “I thought we did a really good job weathering the storm.”

Less than two minutes into the start of the fourth quarter, Bulldog attacker Jackson Morrill scored with a bounce shot to bring his team within three goals. It was as close as Yale would get, as UMass came back with a goal of its own thanks to Mike Tobin.

Tobin’s goal was one of just two second-half goals for the Minutemen.

“I still thought we got some great opportunities, we just didn’t score,” redshirt senior Billy Philpott said. “Opportunities that we have to score—especially in a game like that against such a great team—we got to be better at.”

Yale would cut the lead to three once more with 5:45 left in the contest to make the score 13-10. For the final five-plus minutes of play, the freshman Knote kept the Bulldogs off the board, including stopping Brian Tevlin’s shot from point blank with just over two minutes remaining.

“I expect that out of him now,” Philpott said of the save. “He’s been really good and really consistent for us all year, so we’re going to hold him to that standard. No doubt that’s a great save, but we expect that out of Matt Knote now.”

UMass went into halftime with the large advantage in part because of its finishing ability around the net. Of the 19 shots the Minutemen took in the first half, 11 found the back of the net.

Much of the scoring was done by a pair of seniors for UMass as Philpott and Trainor combined for six goals in the first half. Philpott’s four goals before the break set a career high.

UMass also kept Yale off the board for much of the first two frames. After giving up a goal to Thomas Brag just under four minutes into the game, the Minutemen doubled down, letting just one more Bulldog shot find the back of the net.

The Minutemen defenders gave Yale fits for much of the first half, turning the Bulldogs over 16 times and keeping the ball away from dangerous areas.

“We talked about the past few days, that anytime the ball is loose, we have to come up with a ground ball,” Cannella said. “They made some mistakes, we made some deflections, we got some nuggets. But every time the ball came down, we were able to get some of those 50-50 balls.”

Despite the enormity of the win, UMass is already looking ahead.

“Its not the biggest game of the season, it was because it was today’s game,” Cannella said, “and now the biggest game will be Tuesday against Albany.”

Noah Bortle can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @noah_bortle.