No. 14 UMass looks to sweep regular season series against No. 16 Hofstra on Friday

Minutemen won previous meeting 16-10 on the road

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Lynus Erickson

Lynus Erickson/Daily Collegian

By Ben Astill, Collegian Correspondent

On Feb. 22, 2020, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team walked off Garber Field with a tough one-goal loss to Harvard. In the 13 months that have since past, the Minutemen (3-2, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association) have protected home field every time they’ve had the opportunity, winning five straight, including two games this year. They will look to keep that streak going when the Hofstra Pride come to Amherst on Friday, April 8 for the second meeting between the two teams this season.

When UMass visited Long Island on March 30 of this year to play Hofstra (5-2, 2-1 CAA) for the first time, the Minutemen controlled the game wire to wire and came out with a 16-10 win over a very talented group. The challenge on Friday will be bringing the same energy and beating a very motivated Pride team for a second time.

“The slate is clear” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said, emphasizing that the Minutemen need to not be overconfident from their previous victory. “[Hofstra] had a great win over Towson last week, they’re going to come back here and fight with everything they have”

Despite No. 14 UMass controlling the previous meeting between the two teams, Hofstra is not a team to be taken lightly. The Pride are ranked No. 16 nationally, and they will have the extra motivation of trying to improve and avenge last week’s loss.

“They are an explosive team, they’ve proven that,” Cannella said of Friday’s opponents.

A key to the previous encounter with Hofstra for the Gorillas was how well they played defensively, along with strong goaltending from Matt Knote. Hofstra has an extremely high-powered offense, scoring 102 goals in seven games (an over 14 and a half goal average) but UMass held them to just 10 goals.

“They’ve done a good job,” Canella said when sharing his thoughts on the defense this season. “[Associate Head Coach] Craig McDonald prepares them well each week. For those guys, it’s going to be about communication and playing as a unit.”

Another factor to defensive success will be trying to minimize the impact of Hofstra senior Ryan Tierney again. Tierney already has 31 goals and 11 assists on the season in just seven games, and he is perhaps the biggest factor in the Pride offense. UMass did a tremendous job defending Tierney in its previous matchup, limiting him to two points, his lowest single game total this season. Slowing him down will inevitably be a big factor if UMass hopes to win again and sweep this regular season series.

On the offensive side, the Minutemen will hope their top contributors will continue to lead them to success. UMass has been without its 2019 and 2020 leading point scorer, Chris Connolly, for several games. In his absence, several people have stepped up to fill the gap, including graduate student Devin Spencer, junior Gabriel Procyk and freshman Dillon Arrant. If Connolly remains out, those three will be crucial to making sure UMass continues to produce offensively.

Coming off such a tough, close loss to the Drexel Dragons last Saturday, it will be crucial for UMass to set themselves back on the right track, and the upcoming two-game home stand with Hofstra and Towson will be a great place to do just that. With only four games remaining in the regular season, the Minutemen cannot afford to waste opportunities, so it will be vitally important for them to bring the energy that defines “Gorilla Lacrosse” to Garber Field on Friday.

Ben Astill can be reached at [email protected]