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

Wendel: Second half struggles plague UMass men’s lacrosse

Minutemen can’t come from behind in Richmond loss
Shilpa Sweth/ Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team fell to Richmond 13-12 Saturday, with a late Minutemen comeback attempt falling just short. For UMass, this game represents another in a string of recent second-half performances that have held the team back this season.

After a 2-1 start to the season from the Minutemen (6-4, 1-1 Atlantic 10), late-game issues began to rear their head during the team’s March 3 showdown against the Yale Bulldogs. UMass started the game strong, taking a one-goal lead into the second quarter. Despite a large Yale run, the deficit was still just four goals for the Minutemen at halftime.

Then, the problems began. In this case, those problems didn’t stem from a lack of opportunities; both UMass and the Bulldogs had 23 shots in the second half. Rather, the main issue for the Minutemen was failing to take advantage of those opportunities, as they scored just four goals over the final two periods to Yale’s nine en route to an 18-9 Bulldog win.

From that game on, UMass seemingly hasn’t been able to replicate, or improve on, in first-half performances over the final two quarters of games. Against the Spiders (6-4, 1-1 Atlantic 10), those problems materialized on both ends of the field.

In the first half of Saturday’s game, after a hot start, the Minutemen surrendered four unanswered goals between the late first and early second, allowing Richmond to take an 8-6 lead into halftime.

That two-goal lead extended to four with under four minutes to play, but still, UMass fought back. Minutemen midfielder Mike Tobin scored three points in the space of a minute and 22 seconds to bring the lead down to one. In the game’s final minute, though, a failed clear let the Spiders run the concluding handful of seconds out.

From strictly a statistical viewpoint, a balanced second half took place between Richmond and UMass, and on some points, I would agree. The difference in second-half shots between the teams was just one, and the Minutemen led the way in faceoffs, ground balls and turnovers.

At the same time though, if you’re UMass, you shouldn’t want that half to play out as balanced. The Minutemen began the half down two and needed to have a clear advantage in at least a couple stats if they wanted to come out of the game as winners. Just keeping pace with the Spiders shouldn’t be enough, and in Saturday’s case, it wasn’t.

An area UMass could have taken advantage in was scoring off of turnovers. The Minutemen defense tightened up after allowing eight first-half goals, causing Richmond to suffer 10 turnovers over the final two frames. UMass would only score off of one of these turnovers. Receiving so many opportunities and failing to capitalize is a tough look for an attack unit that has shown its firepower in spurts this season. Going forward, the Minutemen will need to be more consistent, especially in transition situations, if the team wants to achieve future success.

The final struggle seen in UMass’ second-half performance today came along with the team’s final possession: failed clears. Now, the Minutemen have done well in this stat all season, and for the majority of Saturday, things were no different. In fact, entering the fourth quarter, UMass was a perfect 11-of-11 on its clears, and they finished 15-of-17 on the day. However, both failed clears came at inopportune times, during the fourth quarter when the team needed as many possessions as it could to complete its comeback.

Overall, while the Minutemen are still contenders in Atlantic 10 lacrosse, a good, complete second half could go a long way in determining this group’s ceiling.

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

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