UMass holds off comeback attempt, defeats Brown 10-9

Five first-quarter goals make the difference in non-conference finale

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Shilpa Sweth / Daily Collegian

By Dean Wendel, Collegian Staff

While it might not have been as comfortable of a victory as head coach Greg Cannella and company had hoped for, it was a win nonetheless.

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team closed its non-conference slate on a high note Saturday, defeating the Brown Bears. The Minutemen (5-3) carried all the momentum after three quarters, entering the final period with a four-goal lead.

That cushion would quickly evaporate, as Brown’s (3-4, 0-1 Ivy) Tanner Burns and Ryan Behrens would each score within the first four minutes of the fourth, bringing the UMass lead down to two. A couple minutes later, it was Ben Locke with his ninth of the year; suddenly, the Minutemen found themselves up just one with 4:27 to play.

Four Bear shots and three UMass turnovers later, the final buzzer sounded. Massachusetts 10, Brown nine.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Cannella said. “We had to hang on at the end. We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the fourth quarter. We had opportunities, still had the 10 shots [in the fourth] and we got blanked.”

“Just happy coming out with a [win]. Hopefully gives us some confidence and really, the main thing was going down 3-0 [and] having the ability to respond and fight back. It’s great to see.”

While Brown was the team attempting the comeback in the game’s late stages, it was the Minutemen who were first faced with a multi-goal deficit. The Bears scored three goals within the game’s opening five minutes, jumping out to the previously mentioned 3-0 lead.

From there, a UMass onslaught began. Between the 2:57 mark in the first quarter and the 14:35 mark in the second, the Minutemen scored six of their 10 goals. Everything seemed to go right over those three and a half minutes for UMass, especially for Will Abbott and Shane O’Leary, who each scored their two goals during that period.

After two Brown goals cut the lead to one, another smaller Minutemen run occurred in the third, with Carter Castillo and Mason Bregman combining for three unanswered goals in just over three minutes. For Bregman, that would contribute to a hat-trick, bringing his season goal total up to five.

While senior goalie Matt Knote didn’t have his strongest performance statistically speaking, one of the nation’s top netminders continued to make his presence felt. Of Knote’s nine saves on the day, a stopped breakaway, an agile kick save in the middle of the third and snatching the Bears’ final shot with 27 seconds remaining were his highlights.

While Bregman led UMass in scoring with his hat trick, Abbott contributed as well. The graduate student scored the Minutemen’s only two goals off the bench, with both coming in the first quarter during the team’s six-goal run. That brings the goal total up to nine on the season for the Quinnipiac transfer.

“[Abbott’s] been really steady [this season],” Cannella said. “He’s unnerved. He’s a fifth-year senior. So every time he goes out there, he’s done a nice job in kind of creating stability for us as a group on offense.”

Past Bregman and Abbott, O’Leary and Castillo also added two goals apiece, while Gabriel Procyk finished with one.

Winning the face-off battle traveled a long way for UMass today, as sophomore Caleb Hammett delivered one of his best performances of the season. Hammett, or “Drip King” as he’s known on TikTok, finished 15-of-23 (65 percent) on face-offs, including winning three of four in the fourth quarter. The Minutemen also led the ground ball battle, finishing with 32 to Brown’s 28.

The Bears were led in scoring by  Locke and sophomore Aidan McLane, who both finished with two goals. Elsewhere for Brown,  Burns, Trevor Glavin, Matteo Corsi,  Behrens and Wells Bligh all found the scoring sheet.

Next up for UMass is High Point, who will come to Garber Field at 12 p.m. on April 1. The game marks the Minutemen’s first ever Atlantic 10 matchup in men’s lacrosse. ESPN+ will have the broadcast.

Dean Wendel can be contacted at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @DeanWende1.