UMass makes short work of Fairfield

15 straight goals produce 17-4 win, date at Hopkins

May 12, 2002|By Mike Scandura | Mike Scandura,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Eighth seed Massachusetts broke a tie - then Fairfield's spirit - by reeling off 15 unanswered goals to claim a 17-4 first-round victory in the NCAA Division I men's lacrosse tournament at Brown Stadium yesterday.

Doug Little, who scored a modest 13 goals during the regular season, found the back of the net four times and assisted on another as UMass (12-3) made Fairfield's first trip to the NCAAs a short one. The Minutemen broke the school record for most goals in an NCAA tournament game.

The Eastern College Athletic Conference champion Minutemen advance to a quarterfinal game at noon next Sunday against Johns Hopkins at Homewood Field.

"Anytime you face the No. 1 seed in the tournament, you're going to face a challenge - especially at their place," UMass coach Greg Cannella said. "We've won some big road games this year, at Penn State and Georgetown, so hopefully those games will help us. But I think our defense played as well today as it has in a long time. I think we can carry that over."

UMass grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Dusty Smith and Neil Lundberg, but the Stags (7-6) tied it on Justin Geluso's two goals late in the first period. Then, the Minutemen's Dan Paccione scored with 45 seconds left in the session and the rout was on.

The Stags trailed 6-2 at halftime, and any hopes for a rally evaporated in the third quarter. After Little scored with 4:40 to play, Marc Morley fired in two goals and Lundberg added one in a span of 81 seconds for a 10-2 lead.

"In the first quarter, even though we scored a couple of goals, Fairfield kind of dictated the tempo of the game," Cannella said. "We didn't allow them to do that by maintaining possession of the ball throughout the rest of the game.

"We've faced [what Fairfield did] all year. We try to play uptempo as much as we can, and teams are going to try and slow it down and control the tempo of the game," Cannella added. "Our guys have really done a good job this year on the offensive side of the field of recognizing tempo, and understanding if you need to possess the ball to score you're going to have to do it."

By aggressively scooping up ground balls and then pushing the ball up the field, UMass was able to dictate tempo and eventually wear down the Stags to the point where the demoralized expressions on their faces were visible from the stands.

What type of expression the Minutemen will be wearing after playing Johns Hopkins remains to be seen.

UMass defender Matt McFarland, for one, can't wait.

"It's going to be fun. ... It's the ultimate game," he said. "When you're a kid playing lacrosse, you think about playing Johns Hopkins."

No. 6 Cornell 13, Stony Brook 3: In the opening game at Brown, the Big Red (12-3) used a stifling defense to dominate the America East Conference champion Seawolves (10-7).

Sean Greenhalgh and Billy Fort scored three times for Cornell, which held Stony Brook's Kevin Pall (98 goals in the past two seasons) to one goal.

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