UMass falls to Fairfield on Saturday, 16-13

Kevin Tobin ties career-high with five goals in the loss

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Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian

By Marco Lopez, Collegian Staff

A strong performance in the first half by the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team wasn’t enough to get the home win against Fairfield on Saturday.

The Minutemen (6-5, 1-2 Colonial Athletic Association) led at halftime, 10-7, but second half struggles including a scoreless third quarter led to a loss to the Stags (7-5, 2-1 CAA).

Fairfield started the game hot offensively with three early goals to open the scoring, but UMass settled in and weathered the storm to finish the first quarter with a 6-5 lead.

The second quarter featured a great performance from the Minutemen, winning the frame 4-2 and going into halftime leading 10-7. Graduate student Logan Liljeberg had all three of his goals in the first half, finishing the game with a hat trick to go along with three assists.

“You guys have seen Logan play all year; he did a great job today. He made one fantastic play, I think it was in the second quarter or first quarter where he came backhanded and scored the goal,” head coach Greg Cannella said. “He’s a really good leader, really smart player on the field, and obviously a very talented kid.”

In the third quarter was when things started to go awry for UMass, as Fairfield won the third quarter 6-0 held the Minutemen scoreless for over 32 minutes in the middle of the game.

“They had a nine-goal run from the third to the fourth, kind of blew us out of the water. Played zone against us in the second half, did a good job the entire second half,” Cannella said. “We won faceoffs, you do a lot of good things, and three for four on extra man. Did a lot of good things but Fairfield was the better team today.”

The zone defense that the Stags employed in the second half against the Minutemen is what appeared to ground the UMass offense. The Minutemen let the highs and lows get to them too much, veering away from their game.

“I think our emotions got pretty involved, not only when they were on their run. We kind of played into their favor in the first half,” Cannella said. “We were not disciplined enough to be able to make a stop and then score on the other side, some undisciplined play there.”

UMass tried to get back into the game towards the end of the fourth, pulling within three goals of Fairfield with three minutes remaining, but it was too late as the Stags finished off the game.

“Settle down, win some draws, possess the ball on offense and try to get back into the game,” Cannella said about what he told his players as they tried to battle back.

Apart from the difficulties in the second half posed by the Fairfield zone, the Minutemen played well in many other aspects of the game and there were some solid individual performances as well.

Graduate student Kevin Tobin tied a single game career high with his five goals in the game, matching his five goal performance against Utah in 2019. His six points on the day were tied with teammate Logan Liljeberg for the most on the team in the game.

“He scored a couple extra man goals. Kevin is an opportunistic kid out there on the field, wish we got him some more opportunities,” Cannella said.

Sophomore Caleb Hammett had a solid day in the faceoff circle, winning 21 out of 30 faceoffs and collecting 15 ground balls for the Minutemen. Junior Matt Knote made 17 saves in net for UMass.

The Minutemen will try to get back on track on Saturday, April 23 as they visit Hofstra on the road in New York. Faceoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Marco Lopez can be reached at [email protected].