UMass takes Garber field for final time against Towson on Saturday

The Minutemen look to snap their two-game losing streak

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Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Collegian Staff

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team is set for its final home game of the season, taking on Towson at 1 p.m. on Saturday in a matchup with substantial Colonial Athletic Association tournament ramifications.

UMass (3-3, 3-2 CAA) is facing a two-game losing streak heading into a game against the Tigers (5-6, 2-3 CAA). Losing on Saturday will allow Towson to slide into the No. 4 spot in the CAA, making the Gorillas’ road to the postseason more difficult.

The Tigers may have a losing record, but they have played quality opponents all year. They are travelling to Amherst riding a hot streak having won three of their last four matchups, including two over ranked opponents.

“They’re a really good team,” coach Greg Cannella said Friday. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence and they’ve played a very difficult schedule in terms of playing Virginia, Duke and Richmond.”

One key for UMass on Saturday will be cooling off that fire and confidence that Towson is playing with early on, so that they aren’t overcome on the scoreboard early.

Jeff Trainor’s energy is usually enough to match the intensity of any whole team by itself, but against the Tigers it will fall on 48 other players’ shoulders to come out just as fired up as their captain leading the way.

“If you have one guy with intensity that’s not going to cut it,” Cannella said. “You need 10 guys with intensity, and then you need an entire bench with intensity as well.”

All season UMass has utilized its two-way midfielders like Trainor to create scoring opportunities while the defense is off-balance. It will need to deploy that quick strike offense as much as possible against Towson.

“They’re going to try to dictate tempo and slow the game down on us, make sure that they have quality possessions,” Cannella said. “So, for us we’d like to try to get out and run a little bit if we can, and it’s going to be a tough chore because this is a really good group.”

All six players on offense for the Minutemen will have a difficult task at hand in breaking through a stout Towson defense led by one of the best long poles in the Country in Koby Smith. And with Chris Connolly’s status still in question, they may need another week of frequent contributions from some of their younger playmakers like Dillon Arrant.

As important will be midfielders like Clayton Proctor, Kevin Cutinella and Grant Breyo, who will need to take advantage of their matchups against other short-stick middies so that Smith’s dominance down low will make less of an impact. Any offensive contributions for that group will help ease the burden of UMass’ veteran core.

As the season winds down, the thought of playoffs begins to come to mind for some players. The Minutemen are currently in position to make the CAA Tournament, but having played the fewest games in the conference, another loss could be detrimental to their postseason hopes.

But for UMass, keeping its tunnel vision and focusing on the task at hand rather than the effect of a win or loss will be vital on Saturday. The playoff thoughts will have to wait a while longer.

“If you focus on something that’s a few weeks away you’re focusing on the wrong thing,” Cannella said. “And if we don’t focus on Towson, they’re going to kick our butts.”

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