Strong start leads UMass to 12-10 win against Vermont

Logan Liljeberg scores four points for the Minutemen

Daily+Collegian

Daily Collegian

By Colin McCarthy, Assistant Sports Editor

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team walked into Garber Field on Tuesday with energy, and after rattling off nine first half goals, UMass (4-3) was able to hold off Vermont long enough to earn a 12-10 win over the Catamounts (2-6).

Vermont began the game in a zone defense, something the Minutemen were quick to take advantage of. They outscored the Catamounts 5-0 in the first quarter which forced Vermont to pivot back to man coverage. UMass already dug the hole, though, and wouldn’t let go of its lead at any point in the contest. The Minutemen played the game at their own pace and even when the Catamounts mounted a comeback, UMass held them off enough to secure the win.

“What goes into that is just [having] the opportunities and finishing the ball,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said of the first half performance. “We had opportunities to finish the ball throughout the game, but we didn’t.”

Logan Liljeberg continues to make an impact in the offense, finishing his afternoon with three goals and one assist. He immediately took on a starting role at attack for the Minutemen and made positive offensive contributions with and without the ball in his stick.

“Opportunistic around the net,” Cannella said of Liljeberg’s individual effort. “A kid’s head fell off his stick and [Liljeberg] just went to the cage and finished it … it’s good awareness, there’s no doubt … for Logan to have that mindset just to attack and realize ‘hey, I can turn the corner here.’”

Liljeberg transferred to UMass ahead of the 2022 season after positive conversations with Cannella and his staff. Making an impact early on in a maroon and grey jersey has been a dream come true for the Wrentham native.

“It’s been unbelievable,” Liljeberg said of his time with the Minutemen. “Growing up, I watched UMass games and got recruited here initially, so it’s been great to play for the hometown team and play for the team I grew up watching. It’s been an absolute honor and a privilege.”

After struggling in the face-off circle against LIU on Saturday, Caleb Hammett bounced back against the Catamounts as the primary face-off specialist. Zach Hochman only took two draws throughout the game and didn’t win either of them, but Hammett helped the Minutemen finish 14-25 on draws as a team. He also contributed to UMass’ strong start, winning 5-of-6 face offs in the first quarter.

In the first half the Minutemen were dominant in nearly every area of the field. They took 25 shots on goal, scored nine goals, didn’t turn the ball over a single time and were a perfect 8-for-8 on clears. But the Catamounts didn’t go away, bringing the game all the way back within two goals in the fourth quarter.

“They’re a good team,” Cannella said. “We told our guys, ‘listen, they were down 8-0 to Providence, they were down 7-1 to Brown, they’re coming back’, they are too good when you look at the skill level they possessed … we’re fortunate to be able to scratch out a couple of these wins but we have a lot of work to do.”

UMass’ backup goalkeeper, Dom Elmo, got a moment to shine towards the end of the game. Matt Knote took a penalty with under a minute to play and needed to come off the field to serve it. Cannella called on his senior backup, and after only taking one warmup shot against him, Elmo made a crucial save to allow the Minutemen to squeeze out the win. As soon as the horn sounded, the entire UMass roster sprinted to the cage to celebrate the win with Elmo.

“Dom’s been through a lot, hasn’t played a whole lot, and to have a moment like that as a senior … to make a huge save for us to win the game, it’s incredible,” Cannella said. “That’s what you want for everyone to have those experiences and he’ll remember that the rest of his life.”

Colin McCarthy can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @colinmccarth_DC.