Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

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

Defense continues to dominate all season for UMass men’s lacrosse

UMass holds Vermont to four goals
Dylan Nguyen/ Daily Collegian (2023)

A defensive masterclass by the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team against the University of Vermont pushed them to their fourth win of the season, 12-4, on Saturday.

The defense has been UMass’ (4-2) shining star of the season and the critical piece to each of its four wins. Along with consistent goalkeeping, the defensive end of the team has dominated their opponents and proven to be strong leaders for their teammates.

“Combination of winning faceoffs, playing great defense, [and] really strong communication,” UMass head coach Greg Cannella said about what went into the dominant win against Vermont.

Referring to the defense, Cannella added, “that was a group effort on that side of the ball.”

UMass’ strong defensive game plan was proven successful as in the first 52 minutes of the game, UMass held Vermont to one goal, which came in the final two minutes of the second quarter. Paired with Vermont’s two scoreless quarters in the first and third quarters, the Minutemen’s defense made it impossible for the Catamounts to produce any offensive action.

The Minutemen’s defense played highly aggressive and consistently challenged the Catamount’s offense by giving them very few shooting opportunities. In the first three-quarters of the game, Vermont had 18 shots total, eight being on goal with only one resulting in a score.

Quick double-teams against the ball carrier and fast movement by UMass’ defense forced many of Vermont’s shots to go wide and overtook possession. From there, UMass excelled in clears, having 17 successful ones out of 20 clear attempts. This guaranteed Vermont did not get any second chances on shooting attempts, which has been a problem for the Minutemen in their past games.

Ultimately, the Catamounts were able to score four goals total, however, two of the last three goals came in garbage time against most of UMass’ substitute players.

Senior defender Jake Dulac had himself a day against Vermont, recording two season highs in ground balls and caused turnovers. Dulac, a fourth-year starter for UMass, has played in all six games of the season, with Vermont being his third start. Dulac totaled four groundballs and two caused turnovers, the most by any UMass player for each category on the day.

Cannella praised Dulac as “a good communicator,” and a player with a “lot of experience,” to help lead the defensive side.

UMass’s senior goalkeeper and team captain Matt Knote continues to prove why he is one of the Minutemen’s key players on the team. Knote protected the net extremely well against Vermont, where he recorded 12 saves and only allowed two goals. Knote’s two goals allowed is a career low for him.

In five out of the six total games for UMass, Knote has had double-digit saves, showing his consistency in net.

Another defensive player that’s made an impact is graduate student Ryan Sharkey. Sharkey, who played his previous four years at Canisius College transferred to UMass for his fifth season of eligibility. Sharkey has started in all six games of the season for UMass, quickly becoming a dependable player.

Sharkey recorded three groundballs and one caused turnover, aiding in the aggressive defensive play that the Minutemen used against Vermont.

In regard to his experienced defenders, Cannella complimented the “really strong leadership on that side of the field.”

UMass’s defensive gameplay has been a crucial part of its four wins and the Minutemen look to continue this type of play with their upcoming opponents, the next being No. 6/7 Rutgers.

“[We have] a good formula and that’s going to have to continue with the people we play coming up here,” Cannella said.

Samantha Sands can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @samanthasands__.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *