UMass falls to Delaware, 9-6, in final regular season game

The Minutemen remain in position for a CAA Tournament berth

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Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Collegian Staff

Strong defense wasn’t enough for the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team, which lost its final game of the regular season, 9-6, to No. 14 Delaware on Friday.

UMass’ (4-5, 4-4 Colonial Athletic Association) offense started with intensity, rattling off four straight first-quarter goals to jump ahead by two early. However, that success would not be sustained, as the Minutemen were shutout for the final 39 minutes by the Blue Hens (10-2, 7-1 CAA).

“Good intensity, good fight, but we didn’t shoot the ball well,” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said after the game. “Third quarter we turned it over a bunch, fouled a bunch … which you can’t do against a good team like that.”

Part of UMass’ struggles on the offensive side of the ball came from penalties taken on the far side of the field. The Gorillas spent a lot of time man-down in the second half, and although the defense didn’t allow Delaware to convert on many of those chances, they were unable to push the pace on offense as a result.

“The guys are trying hard, so they’re going to foul,” Cannella said of the penalty troubles. “You can foul close to the goal, but you can’t foul away from the goal, and we did that a couple times as well six or seven yards away from the cage. You can’t do that, so it’s just being a little more disciplined, that’s all.”

And when UMass did have possession in the offensive end, it couldn’t generate scoring consistently. The goals came at a high volume for spurts before completely stopping for other stretches.

“We had opportunities, it’s just finishing the opportunities you get,” Cannella said. “We shot the ball into the goalie’s stick half a dozen times.”

And that consistency seemed to leave with Chris Connolly’s injury earlier in the season. He has been the glue holding the Minutemen offense together for the last three seasons, and without him they have struggled, despite possessing enough talent to overcome his absence.

“Our guys that are getting those opportunities around the cage — Gabe Procyk, Jeff Trainor, Devin Spencer — those are the guys you’re counting on,” Cannella said. “So, if those goals don’t go in, we’re not going to be successful as a group.”

Outside of tying its season low in goals scored, UMass played very well in other phases of the game including special teams.

The previously mentioned Minutemen man-down unit held the Blue Hens to 1-for-8 on the day and killed off two separate 6-on-4 opportunities that could have altered the course of the game.

“Our D played well the entire game,” Cannella said. “Flew around, made plays, put the ball on the ground against a really good group of offensive players.”

When UMass did cause turnovers, they cleared the ball with ease, only failing to advance into over midfield once out of 19 tries. Add that to Zach Hochman’s 11 faceoff wins to Delaware’s six, and it is clear the Minutemen had no shortage of opportunities to get back into the game.

Now, having lost on Friday, UMass awaits other results around the CAA to find out if it will make a return to the postseason. If either Hofstra or Towson lose this weekend, the Minutemen will be guaranteed one of the top four seeds in the conference.

“We’re hopeful we get another chance to practice on Monday,” Cannella said. “We hope we have that chance and if we do, hopefully we can take advantage of that.”

In its last two games, UMass has played its best offense and best defense all year. So, given the opportunity to compete again next weekend, Cannella remains confident that his team can make a run.

“The thing with getting into the tournament is everyone’s 0-0 again,” Cannella said. “That’s the beauty of playing in a conference championship.”

Should the Minutemen find a spot, they will play in the first round of the CAA Tournament on Thursday.

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.