UMass ends its season with 18-10 playoff loss to Towson

Minutemen’s struggles in the third quarter lead to early exit from CAA tournament

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Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian

By Lulu Kesin, Sports Editor

Logan Liljeberg stepped on the gas to make it a one-score game with just 16 seconds to play in the first half. It wasn’t until a little over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter that the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team found the back of the net again.

After a two-way first half battle in the semifinal round of the Colonial Athletic Association playoffs, the Tigers roared their way to a whopping 18-10 victory, sending the Minutemen back home to end their season.

“Towson earned that,” head coach Greg Canella said postgame. “We came within a goal with it 8-7 at half and then they scored the first four. We did have opportunities and we didn’t score … they were scoring, and you have to match that if you want to stay in the game and we weren’t able to do that.”

To kickstart the latter half, penalties plagued UMass and the Tigers capitalized. Just 21 seconds into the third quarter, Andrew Milani knotted a goal on a man up opportunity, answering right back at the closer from Liljeberg. Not too long after, the depth and heat of the Towson offense wanted in on the scoring, as Kyle Berkeley snagged his 24th goal of the season on a feed from Nick DeMaio. Berkeley stood as one of, if not the most lethal threat to the Minutemen defense heading into Thursday’s match up.

The junior delivered, as that was his third of the evening just minutes into the second half. Berkeley led the charge of a first quarter run earlier in the night as he scored back-to-back goals to make it 6-2 in the Tigers’ favor. Both of Berkeley’s first quarter dimes were unassisted but he paid DeMaio back on his second of the night. DeMaio, also a junior, had five of his own on just eight total shots and added two assists. He scored three in a row to make what was once a 7-11 game to a doubled lead in the third.

“There were stretches in the game where we were not great … we turned the ball over on offense, we fouled untimely and they are a really good shooting team,” Cannella said.

Towson had six total man up opportunities and scored on three of them. UMass had the advantage with seven chances but only capitalized on two of them.

The season high 18 goals for the Tigers was no true reflection of Knote’s performance on the night. The UMass had trouble sliding onto the Towson wings which gave powerhouses like DeMaio a chance to step right down and bait his defender in, rifling a shot right past the maroon and black jerseys. Knote saved 15 shots in his final game of the season, but the UMass defense allowed 33 on goal including 10 in the third and nine in the fourth. The Minutemen only put 18 on goal across all four quarters.

Following the quarter-long dry spell, Aidan Kaminska once again got himself on the stat sheet, firing off a shot from Kevin Tobin. Kaminska proved himself against Hofstra on April 23, completing a hat trick and was once again timely on Thursday against Towson. Riding what turned to be a crucial and rare hot streak for the Minutemen on Thursday, Kaminska scored his first of the night to push it to a two goal deficit which allowed Liljeberg to make it a one goal game shortly after. Kaminska finished with a three-goal game, his last coming from Liljeberg with two minutes in the game.

Despite the latter half slanting heavily in favor of the Tigers, UMass had control at times. To start the playoff contest, Gabriel Procyk pulled out his bread and butter with a crispy lefty shot through the pocket of a defender. Shane O’Leary delivered the textbook pass to put the Minutemen up 1-0. After Towson managed to answer right back, Kevin Tobin’s highlight reel play shifted the tone right back into UMass’ favor. Off a Tigers’ clear attempt, Tobin, standing at just 5-foot-6 jumped up to intercept the pass, which gave him the green light to rip one into the net with a scrambled Townson defense.

The graduate student finished with two goals and two assists in the playoff loss. Graduate transfer Liljeberg also had two goals on the night while Grant Breyo and Carter Castillo joined Procyk with one.

The lights turn off at Garber Field for UMass with an 8-6 record.

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