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UMass blows out Delaware, needs help Saturday to reach CAA men’s lacrosse tournament

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts did its part in convincing fashion, bulldozing Delaware 16-8 Friday at Garber Field.

Now the Minutemen will have to wait to see if they can get some help to earn a spot into the Colonial Athletic Association men’s lacrosse tournament.

Looking a lot more like the team that was ranked in the top 10 in February than the one that suffered losing streaks of three and four games in the middle of the season, the Minutemen turned in a dominant performance from start to finish as they closed the regular season with a senior night win over Delaware.

“All the seniors played well,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “They’re supposed to in their last game on Garber Field. I’m happy for those guys.”

UMass needs two games to go their way on Saturday — Towson needs to beat Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m. in Maryland, and Penn State needs to win at Hofstra at 7 p.m. If those happen, the Minutemen would be the No. 4 seed in the four-team field and would play at Penn State, Wednesday at 3 p.m. If not, UMass would finish the season at 7-7 (2-4 CAA).

“Hopefully we get some help tomorrow and we can keep playing,” senior Will Manny said. “I’ll be watching. We did what we needed to do. We won our game on senior night and defended Garber Field for the last time. You want to play. It’s the playoffs. It’s a new season if we get some help tomorrow.”

Cannella said he and the coaching staff planned to drive to Long Island to watch the Hofstra-Penn State game and scout the Nittany Lions in the event the Minutemen get in. He thought UMass could make an impact if it gets the chance.

“I always think we’re a dangerous team. If it happens, these guys have a lot of life,” Cannella said. “It’s like a 0-0 season, so we’d have a chance.”

Cannella was proud that his team put itself in position to make Saturday matter.

“The perseverance that the guys showed, they could have hung it up,” Cannella said. “Our seniors and upperclassmen did a nice job keeping those guys together. You have to be proud of that.”

In their final game on Garber Field, Manny and Kyle Smith were as in sync as they ever been as one of them set up the other on five of the 16 goals.

“That was how you’d like to draw it up. It doesn’t always go that way,” said Smith, who had six goals and three assists. “Tonight it did.”

Manny agreed.

“I’ve been playing with him for four years. He’s been my roommate for two years now,” said Manny, who had four goals and three assists. “I’ve never had a better connection with anyone. ... It was a great four years with that kid.”

Colin Fleming broke a 2-2 tie with 2:11 left in the first quarter to give UMass momentum heading into the second. Led by Smith, who had four of his goals in the period, the Minutemen produced their most productive offensive quarter of the season, outscoring the Blue Hens 8-2 to take an 11-4 lead at intermission.

Delaware scored the first two goals of the second half, but Manny had two goals and an assists in a 4-0 run that put the game away.

Junior Joe Cavello (goal, assist) continued his strong season at the faceoff circle, winning 16-of-27 draws.

Senior Ryan Hollenbaugh was strong on defense causing three turnovers while snaring three groundballs in front of freshman goalie Zach Oliveri, who made 11 saves.

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

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