A second half surge puts UMass over No. 17 Brown 10-7

Minutemen triumph on the road for the first time this season

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Eva Trainer / Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

After a slow first half wrote a narrative in favor of No. 17 Brown, the Massachusetts’s men’s lacrosse team rewrote the afternoon to defeat the Bears 10-7 on their home turf.

Prior to Saturday afternoon, the Minutemen (5-3) had yet to succeed on the road and also hadn’t won against a ranked opponent, but against Brown (5-3) they managed to erase both of those stats. UMass won the face off battle, had 24 ground balls to the Bears’ 21, out shot them on goal 22-21 and most importantly, had the advantage in goals scored after four quarters played.

“Our guys came ready to play,” head coach Greg Cannella said. “Brown is a very good team, they came ready to play too and it was a very tight game throughout. I was particularly happy with how our defense and our goalie performed … the composure we had down the stretch … we did a nice job today … when the game was on the line we were able to push it over so I am happy for the guys.”

Crisp ball movement for the Minutemen allowed Mike Tobin to put the ball past the Brown’s netminder with 11 minutes to play in the fourth off an assist from Logan Liljeberg. M. Tobin’s goal gave UMass a 9-6 lead early in the final quarter, the largest spread for either team on the day.

Two minutes later, what looked like a stellar Bears team began to snap. They picked up their 10th turnover of the day on their second offsides call of the game. Self-inflicted errors hurt Brown’s chances of punching back at UMass and instead gave the Minutemen another chance to take time off the clock or add to their lead.

UMass didn’t score, after Liljeberg’s shot met the goalpost and instead put the pressure back on Minutemen goalie Matt Knote. A wind up shot by Trevor Yeboah-Koadie flew wide but possession remained for Brown. Devon McLane took his chance on Knote but with 5:45 and Knote made his biggest save of the day, stopping momentum for the Bears and McLane’s rocket shot. Frustration ensued for Brown and resulted in an illegal hit at midfield that gave UMass a man-up opportunity following its empty trip.

“Matt Knote made the saves in the early part of the game when we weren’t great and didn’t settle in defensively,” Cannella said. “Especially when you are on the road, its always great for [Knote] or any goalie to get off to a good start which he did … that type of performance frustrates the group, we’ve been there a bunch this year in terms of being frustrated by goalies so you know the effect it has on the offensive players and you know [Knote] was as solid as anything today.”

After two fouls on the sequence, the Bears came unglued. Poor defense met with the speed of Kevin Tobin allowed him to find the back of the net for his fourth of the day, pushing it to a 10-6 Minutemen lead with 2:43 remaining in Rhode Island. Both Tobin brothers connected on passes from Liljeberg in the fourth quarter, scoring the final two goals of the day for UMass.

Tobin finished with five points, including the first goal of the day to go up 1-0 while M. Tobin chipped in one. Liljeberg lead the way with three assists, his first occurred with 11 to play in the third when Gabe Procyk scored to knot things up at 6-6.

While he only tallied one point on the score sheet, James Caddigan’s highlight reel goal set a new tone for UMass’ offense at a pivotal point in the game. Procyk danced up the wing, hit Caddigan over the top after he slipped through two defenders then tip-toed around the circle to score.

Following Caddigan’s goal with just under eight minutes to play in the third, the Minutemen never gave up their lead.

The first two quarters saw minimal success connecting on goals for both teams. Knote along with Bears’ protector Connor Theriault had eight saves a piece heading into halftime. Knote finished with 14 to Theriault’s 12. Knote kicked off the opening quarter with a solid save and then stood his ground on the near pipe to stop another shot a play later.

A penalty on Procyk gave the Bears their first man up opportunity of the day but Knote’s save off McLane’s shot prevented Brown from capitalizing on the advantage. Then, with a man up opportunity for UMass, Theriault mirrored Knote’s play and saved Grant Breyo’s attempt to capitalize. Both teams played tight defense and with a netminder battle on opposite ends of the field, neither opponent found much success in the first.

In between the first and second quarter, Brown improved its shooting angles and began to connect, when too much time and space gave Ryan Aughavin a clean shot and goal. Aughavin proceeded to run past his defender a play later, quickly making it 2-1 with a new flavor in favor of the Bears. Brown nursed a one goal lead going into halftime but failed to regain its momentum on offense in the latter half of the day.

Procyk finished with three goals for himself, one coming off a rebound when Theriault deflected a shot but couldn’t locate the ball in the air. Procyk scooped and his nifty shot made it 3-2. Shane O’Leary had one tally on the day, on a rocket shot with just five seconds left on the shot clock.

UMass picked up its fourth straight W and now prepares to welcome No. 20 Delaware to Garber Field on Saturday, April 2 at 1 p.m.

Lulu Kesin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Lulukesin.