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UMass men’s lacrosse falls to Yale in NCAA Tournament

  • UMass coach Greg Cannella shouts instructions during his team's 10-6 win against Hofstra in the CAA Tournament semifinal, Thursday, May 3, 2018 at Garber Field. Gazette File Photo/Jerrey Roberts

  • Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics

  • Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics

  • Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics

  • Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics

  • Thom Kendall / UMass Athletics



@MattVautourDHG
Saturday, May 12, 2018

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — With 9 minutes, 32 seconds remaining, UMass had scored two straight goals to cut Yale’s lead in the NCAA men’s lacrosse tournament to four goals and had a 2-minute extra man opportunity upcoming.

The Minutemen had momentum and looked for a little magic. But Bulldog goalie Jack Starr stopped Jeff Trainor on the doorstep with 8:56 and Yale took possession. After killing off the remaining 1:24 of the penalty, the Bulldogs scored to put themselves back up by five with 7:19 left.

The swing gave Yale just enough advantage to hold on. The Minutemen scored the last three goals of the game to make it close, but the Bulldogs advanced to the quarterfinals with a 15-13 win at Reese Stadium.

“Yale is a great team. They certainly earned it today,” said UMass coach Greg Cannella, whose team finished at 12-5.

Coming into the game, Cannella knew the faceoff battle could go a long way toward winning the game. It featured two of the nation’s top 10 in percentage and two Major League Lacrosse draft choices. UMass’ Noah Rak got the better of the matchup in the regular season, but Yale’s Conor Mackie won 20 of 29 draws in the game as the Bulldogs dominated possession.

“(Mackie) controlled possession of the faceoff. That was a huge factor in the game,” Cannella said. “We played a lot of defense.”

UMass actually committed fewer turnovers in the game than Yale, but the Minutemen gave away seven possessions in the third quarter when the Bulldogs seized control.

“During that run that they had, we didn’t handle it very well,” Cannella said. 

Trailing 7-5 early in the second half, Rak won a faceoff and charged toward the goal. As he drew a defender, he fed Buddy Carr (three goals) off the right post. The senior stuffed it past Yale goalie Jack Starr 1:32 into the third and the UMass bench erupted. 

Faceoff wins were hard to come by all day for the Minutemen, but Rak won his second straight and tried to ignite the offense again. But his pass was offline giving the Bulldogs the ball back.

After Yale settled the pace, Lucas Colter beat Sean Sconone (10 saves) to make it 8-6 with 11:40 left in the third. The goal started surge of five straight for Yale that put UMass on its heels the rest of the way.

Cannella was proud of the season. 

“We’re very proud of our team and the way they persevered,” Cannella said. “We started out at 1-4, fought through a lot of adversity and went on a run to be in the spot we’re in. The overall effort they gave us and the leadership throughout the year, helped us change the culture.”

Junior long-stick midfielder Isaac Paparo, who had two goals, said the season set the standard for the players going forward.

“We tried riding this out as long as possible. The seniors gave us tremendous leadership,” he said. “We played hard and practiced hard and trusted one another.”

After the game, Cannella and Yale coach Andy Shay, his former assistant coach, shared a long embrace.

“I wished him luck. I hope he gets there. That’s their goal: to get to the National Championship and the Final Four,” Cannella said. “I told him I hope he gets there, and I told him I loved him.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage