Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass ends streak by defeating Army men’s lacrosse on Saturday

Program notches first win over Black Knights since 2014
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2023)

After nine years of waiting, the day finally came.

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team rid themselves of a ghost that had lingered around the program for years: an inability to defeat Army.

After a 6-5 victory on Feb. 8, 2014, the Minutemen had suffered seven straight losses at the hands of the Black Knights. There were close calls, to be sure. 2019’s edition of the game went to overtime. Last year’s meeting between the schools was another close affair, with Army winning at home by just one goal. Still, the Black Knights had prevailed.

Saturday saw a change. In a game that the Minutemen led nearly wire to wire, the final score showed a 10-8 UMass (1-0) victory. Senior Carter Castillo led the Minutemen with a hat-trick, while redshirt sophomore Shane O’Leary added two goals of his own.

When it comes to UMass lacrosse, no one knows Army better than goalkeeper Matt Knote. While it may seem hard to believe now, the veteran netminder was once a freshman, and back in 2020, Knote got matched up with the Black Knights for his first day on the job. That game didn’t go so well not only for Knote, but for the entire Minutemen roster, who fell to Army 17-4. Knote opened his career with a loss, finishing with only 10 saves to 15 goals allowed.

Saturday’s performance was night and day compared to that 2020 showdown. Knote had several crucial saves and finished with 19 saves, only eight goals allowed, and a win.

“All year, we always go about the game the same way, no matter who we play,” Knote said postgame. “The resiliency we had through all four quarters, no matter if we were up three [or] tied, everyone looked great [and] worked hard.”

It’s a promising start for UMass, the first one they’ve had in a fairly long time. Without counting the COVID year in 2021, Army has been the school’s opening opponent every season since 2011. The first four years began with Minutemen victories, but that fourth victory in 2014 marked the last time UMass opened their season with a win (again, not counting 2021).

The Minutemen weren’t the only team that would lose to the Black Knights, either. Through the duration of the nine-year streak, Army went 61-37 in games that didn’t involve UMass. During that stretch, head coach Joe Alberici led his teams to seven winning seasons, five 10-win seasons, and an NCAA tournament appearance.

For Saturday, the leaders for the Black Knights were two midfielders, Reese Burek and Jacob Morin. Burek, a junior, led Army in scoring with a hat trick of his own, adding an assist to finish his day with four points. Coincidentally, Burek’s first collegiate goal came versus UMass three years prior, as the then-freshman would score in the fourth quarter of that 17-4 rout. In last year’s game, Burek chipped in two goals and an assist as well.

Morin also saw time in both the 2020 and 2022 Army/UMass matchups. While he was not able to secure a point in 2020, he scored two goals in 2022 to help the Black Knights win. Saturday, the junior scored two more on six shots on net.

“It’s good, it’s good,” coach Greg Cannella said postgame when asked his feelings after the victory. “I think it’s 2014, the last time we beat them, not that I would know that. Listen, any time you win a game in Division I, it’s a good feeling and first game, home game, coming off of a summer where we lost a player … it’s a lot of emotion.”

The Minutemen will look to continue their winning ways Friday at 1 p.m. when they’ll travel to take on UMass Lowell. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.

Dean Wendel can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @DeanWende1.

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    Jim wendelFeb 12, 2023 at 1:02 pm

    Great article!!!!!