UMass men’s lacrosse’s veteran leadership sparks win over Drexel

Graduate players account for 12 of team’s 23 points

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Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

By Ben Astill, Collegian Correspondent

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team went into Saturday’s contest against Drexel looking to carry the momentum of its season opening win. Thanks in large part to a run fueled by their veteran leadership, they were able to come out victorious, 13-7.

Six out of the seven seniors on the 2020 Minutemen roster returned to the team in 2021 after last season was cut short. Many of these players were the difference makers that helped UMass (2-0, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) get a second-straight win to start the season.

“They’ve seen everything,” head coach Greg Cannella said of his graduate players. “Some guys may have jitters, when those guys jump out there, there’s no more jitters for them”

The story early on appeared to be the excellent goaltending of sophomore Matt Knote, but perhaps equally important was the production the Minutemen got on the other side of the field from graduate players.

Fifth year captains Jeff Trainor and Billy Philpott were the ones to help UMass get out to an early lead, each scoring a crucial goal in the first quarter. The Minutemen took the lead 37 seconds into Saturday’s game, thanks to Trainor’s first goal of the young season, and would not surrender the lead for the rest of the game.

Drexel (1-2, 1-2 CAA) controlled much of the possession and shooting early on, with the Dragons having more shots and shots on goal in both the first two quarters, but UMass’ veteran leadership helped the team stayed composed and focused. The Minutemen made the most of their opportunities and never looked back.

Cannella said his team could have been sharper in the first half, especially offensively. So when things were not going well, the veteran leadership was crucial to keeping the Minutemen ahead on the scoreboard.

Trainor would add another goal in the second quarter, and he was joined by fellow graduate player Devin Spencer and senior Clayton Proctor in helping UMass expand their lead even further heading into halftime.

This early run helped the Minutemen build momentum going into the second half, when younger players like freshman Dillon Arrant—who had 4 second half goals—would follow the lead of their veterans and help put the game out of reach.

“You hope that they can use [their] experience to benefit the rest of the team with their leadership” Cannella said of the graduate players and their role on the team.

By the end of the contest, 12 of the 23 UMass points on the day were attributed to fifth year players, including five points from Spencer and four from Trainor. The 13th-ranked Minutemen undoubtedly will need more games like Saturday’s out of their veteran leadership if they hope to continue this hot start to the season. And if Saturday’s game was any indication, the veterans are up to the task.

The Minutemen will hope their veteran leadership steps up again when they travel to Albany to take on the Great Danes. The game is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23 at 1 pm.

Ben Astill can be reached at [email protected]