UMass one step ahead, defeats Hofstra 13-9 on the road

Minutemen swallow the Pride

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Eva Trainer/ Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

In dire need of a statement and conference win, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team remained one step ahead of Hofstra for four quarters, picking up a 13-9 win for its final road game of the regular season.

The Minutemen (7-5, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association) came into Saturday afternoon’s contest needing at least one win, if not two in their final two games to make the playoffs. While pressure also remained in Hofstra’s (5-9, 1-3 CAA) hands, it was ultimately UMass who made the Pride’s chance at playoff contention slim.

Momentum certainly shifted but one thing that never did was UMass’ lead. The Minutemen powerfully held off a raging Hofstra comeback effort on offense and never let the score margin get anything closer than one. It was mutual aid offensive display, with seven goal scorers on the day for the Minutemen, three racking up hat tricks.

“[The] guys worked hard during the week, focused on their preparation, went in there prepared and got off to a good start,” head coach Greg Cannella said. “Really kind of maintained our composure pretty much the entire game … we were able to stop runs, score some timely goals, win some face offs, get some great saves so it was a total team effort.”

Hofstra’s Rory Jones forced a turnover in midfield for the Pride just minutes into the third quarter, giving them another chance at a goal after four straight misfires. Griffin Turner followed suit with another misfire but ultimately Jones bookended the effort and found the back of the net, making it 8-7 early in the second half.

For UMass, it was the veteran Logan Liljeberg who carried his first half performance into the second to answer right back at Rory’s momentary success. Liljeberg went on full spin cycle, finishing off an epic play with a crucial goal into a celebration. Liljeberg flapped his arms and puffed his chest as his teammates met their hands to his helmet to pay respects for the graduate student’s third goal of the day.

Liljeberg’s first tally opened the game and set the tone for the Minutemen with his unassisted shot coming with 9:25 to play in the first. Grant Breyo fed Liljeberg for his second, giving Breyo an assist right before he scored one of his own from Kevin Tobin.

Kevin Tobin was no less important for UMass on the day, as he finished with three of his own along with two assists. In similar fashion, K. Tobin had a much needed answer back after Dylan Mclntosh got his 20th of the season to make it 8-7 as the third quarter faded away. With two minutes to play, K. Tobin snuck in a goal to squeeze it home and push it back to a two goal lead heading into the final 15. In the win, K. Tobin surpassed Jeff Trainor as the highest scoring midfielder in UMass program history.

Before the Minutemen got things going in the first quarter, both goalies made their presence known. Mac Gates had five saves in the opening quarter to Matt Knote’s four, but Knote finished with 15 to Gates’ 11. Knote’s most notable save came after a tough sequence for UMass’ netminder. Hofstra called a timeout with 2:48 in the first half, down three before Turner fired one to cut it to two. Turner doubled down and scored one more less than a minute later. A 6-5 game right before the half-forced Canella to call timeout.

Chase Patterson won the faceoff out of UMass’ timeout and ripped down main street, but Knote expected the shot, saving what could have been a difference maker in a very competitive first half.

“[Knote] has been consistent with his effort every day,” Cannella said. “That persistence and consistency so far has paid off for Matt and hopefully he can continue to that.”

In the fourth quarter, Carter Castillo added to the fun by scoring his first collegiate goal. The unassisted rifle pushed it to 10-7, a crucial margin and goal from the junior. With help from Aidan Kaminska and K. Tobin, the Minutemen put the nails in the coffin of a much-needed late season conference win.

Mike Tobin and Gabriel Procyk joined Castillo and Breyo’s one goal contribution on the day. M. Tobin scored off a pass from his brother to start the third. Procyk found the back of the net early from James Caddigan.

The two teams split at an even 24 shots on goal, but UMass had a 34-25 advantage on ground balls. Caleb Hammett remained lethal in faceoffs as he’s been all season, winning 16 on Saturday to the Pride’s nine. Hofstra was cleaner than the Minutemen in the turnover category, having just nine to their 15.

UMass closes the regular season with a senior night evening game in Amherst on Friday at 6 p.m. If the Minutemen can ride this winning streak all the way home, their playoff future is brighter.

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