UMass men rebound from difficult season

College Lacrosse Notebook

March 25, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,

The 2008 season wasn't about succeeding for the Massachusetts men's lacrosse team. It was about getting through a trying time.

Before the Minutemen's season began, eight players were suspended for their roles in a beating of three individuals with lacrosse sticks and bottles. The suspensions left the team with just 27 players.

"We scaled everything back practice-wise and time-wise," UMass coach Greg Cannella said. "Tried not to do too much and keep the guys as fresh as possible. ... I think they all felt we were a little undermanned."

That team finished 5-9 overall and 3-4 in the Eastern College Athletic Conference. The Minutemen, though, have bounced back.

UMass is 4-3 overall and 1-0 in the conference after upsetting then-No. 16 Loyola, 8-6, on Saturday. The No. 14 Minutemen have beaten No. 11 Harvard and lost to No. 7 Hofstra, No. 10 Brown and No. 20 Albany by a combined five goals.

Attackman Jim Connolly, one of the eight suspended, leads the team in goals (19) and points (22). Goalkeeper Doc Schneider ranks in the top 10 in the nation in goals-against average (7.48) and save percentage (.614).

Cannella, however, declined to put too much weight into the team's reversal yet.

"I wouldn't say it's remarkable. We're 4-3," he said. "I think what I expected was the guys to come back and work hard, take a lot of pride in what they're doing and appreciate the opportunity that they have."

Terp fills in nicely

After Maryland defenseman Anthony Costanzo shut out North Carolina junior attackman Gavin Petracca - who, with 26 points, is the Tar Heels' third-leading scorer - Costanzo credited his effort to extra time in the film room and on the field.

"I like to be well prepared and know the plays so that we can help each other out," said Costanzo, a 6-foot-7, 210-pound senior who was inserted after starter Ryder Bohlander suffered a concussion early in the first quarter of Saturday's 8-7 win. "Sometimes I'm a little bit quiet, so people have to try and get that out of me, but other people are talking to me and helping me talk more. [It] was a tough day, and things were kind of going crazy, but we were well prepared and we knew everything that was going on."

Switch for Gopher

When Goucher's coaches asked Justin Dunn to switch from attack to defense during the offseason, the sophomore didn't hesitate - or stumble.

"It's just a different mind-set," said Dunn, who is part of a unit that is limiting opponents to 9.1 goals per game and has helped the Division III Gophers to a 6-2 record. "You can't stop and you can't let up for a second because then you'll get scored on. I kind of know what those guys are looking for because I did it for the last couple years. That helps me out a lot."

Et cetera

Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala is one victory away from capturing his 100th career win with the Blue Jays, who are 99-28 with him. Bob Scott (158 victories) and Henry Ciccarone (105) are the only coaches in school history to have reached that mark. ... Towson senior Bill McCutcheon has scored nine of his team-best 13 goals in the team's two victories, including four in the Tigers' 11-9 win over Robert Morris on Saturday.

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