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

UMass lets up 15, falls to Richmond in Atlantic 10 semifinal

Widest margin of defeat for the Minutemen since Yale
Kayla Wong/ Daily Collegian (2023)

In a largely one-sided affair, the Massachusetts men’s lacrosse team saw its season end Thursday night at the hands of Richmond, losing 15-8. The Spiders (10-4, 4-1 Atlantic 10) jumped out to a multi-goal lead early and never looked back, with the Minutemen (8-6, 3-2 Atlantic 10) facing up to a nine-goal deficit at times. 

“Numbers don’t lie” is a popular saying amongst the sports community, and if it’s true, then it paints a pretty telling picture of just how dominant Richmond was in its semifinal matchup. The Spiders outshot the Minutemen by 15, recovered more ground balls, suffered seven fewer turnovers, and succeeded on more clears. The only key stat that UMass saw an advantage in was on faceoffs, where sophomore Caleb Hammett won just over 55 percent of his attempts.  

The UMass offense had trouble generating consistent looks on offense throughout the day, leading to the wide margin of victory for Richmond. 

“Richmond slid early to our offensive guys and we didn’t handle it well, the pressure was too much for most of our guys,” Cannella said of the Spiders’ aggressive defensive coverage.

After a defensive struggle defined the game’s first few minutes, Richmond opened the scoring with a pair of goals from juniors Lance Madonna and Luke Grayum. From then on, the Spiders displayed their relaxed offensive attack, which slowly wore the Minutemen defense down. While a Gabriel Procyk score reduced the deficit, two Dalton Young goals in two minutes brought Richmond back up three. It was far from the final time the senior made his presence felt. 

In the beginning of the second, things seemed to point towards another close semifinal matchup, with UMass scoring two goals in the quarter’s opening 61 seconds. One of those was scored by redshirt sophomore defenseman Jack Wittmaack, who took the ball off of the quarter’s first faceoff and fired in the second goal of his career. After an impressive Mike Tobin goal brought the Spider lead down to one with 6:13 to go in the half, things seemed alright for the Minutemen. 

Then, the Richmond onslaught began. 

Over a near-15 minute period spanning from the end of the second to the middle of the third, the Spiders would score eight unanswered goals. Young personally had a role in four of them, scoring three more goals and an assist to bring his totals up to 26 and 36 on the year, respectively.

That stretch proved to be catastrophic for the Minutemen, digging a hole that they wouldn’t be able to get out of. Dropped balls, turnovers, and blown defensive assignments were themes throughout the game, but these struggles were particularly prevalent for UMass in the second half. 

Tobin finally broke the drought for the Minutemen at the 5:10 mark in the third quarter, scoring his 11th goal of the season. The senior midfielder was a bright spot for UMass on this day, finishing with three goals and an assist. Shane O’Leary added two more goals for the Minutemen, while graduate student Will Abbott, Procyk, and Wittmaack chipped in one each. 

One bright note for UMass is that Tobin and Matt Knote will both return to Amherst next season using the fifth year granted to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ll look to anchor the Minutemen in 2024 both as impact players on the field and as commanding presences in the locker room.

“Having those guys back helps us with leadership moving forward,” Cannella said. 

For Richmond, Young, who won the A-10’s Offensive Player of the Year award that morning, played up to his accolade and then some, finishing with five goals and three assists. The Madonna brothers–Lance and Derrek–combined for five goals and an assist as well. 

For the Minutemen, their season has now concluded at 8-6, and 2023 will mark the fourth straight year (not counting 2020) that the team has lost in its conference tournament’s semifinal. They’ll continue to build and look for more consistency and success heading into next season.

“Growth, young guys gaining valuable experience,” Cannella said of his takeaways from the season. “[We have to] maintain the proper preparation and proper focus to move onward and upward.”

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

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