UMass men’s lacrosse bounces back, beats Sacred Heart 13-9

  • The UMass men’s lacrosse team beat Sacred Heart, 13-9, Tuesday at Garber Field. GAZETTE FILE

For the Gazette
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

AMHERST — The UMass men’s lacrosse team bounced back from a season-opening loss to defeat Sacred Heart, 13-9, Tuesday afternoon at Garber Field.

“I think there was a sense of urgency because we got blown out on Saturday” against Army, UMass head coach Greg Cannella said. “Whenever Sacred Heart seemed like they were going to make a run, one goal or two goals, we responded.”

The Minutemen (1-1) were led by Chris Connolly and his team-high four goals. Buddy Carr added a hat trick and a team-high four assists.

“I was able to step up on my man and kind of read the defense in a way and find the open guys,” Carr said. “Guys were cutting, (Sacred Heart) were pressing up so it was easy to find them.”

A 4-0 surge in the first quarter from UMass forced the Pioneers (1-1) to take a timeout. The four consecutive goals proved to be the longest run of the day as both teams traded one or two goals the rest of the match.

Sacred Heart had a two-goal spurt at the end of the first quarter to make it 5-3. A third goal was waived off as a result of time expiring. Kevin Cop added a third tally at the beginning of the second to pull the Pioneers within 5-4 with 12:49 remaining before half. It was as close as Sacred Heart would get the rest of the game.

“We wanted to start fast and fortunately we were able to,” Cannella said. “We had to get out to a good start, based on what we did on Saturday we had to try to do our best to get out and get going. ... It gives us an indication of who our guys are and how they kind of get off the mat. We’re ready to come back and play which is a good sign.”

Noah Rak opened the scoring for UMass with a hard shot that went top-right shelf past Pioneers netminder Brooks Dutton. Jake Lisauskas, Ben Spencer and Connolly chipped in the following three goals. respectively.

Out of a faceoff, Joe Saggese put the Pioneers on the board with his first of three goals. Inclined to take a timeout, UMass regrouped. Carr came out of the huddle and ripped one to the bottom-right corner to extend the UMass lead to 5-1.

“Buddy is an unselfish player,” Cannella said. “He was a force today and I’m sure he was disappointed with his showing on Saturday so he came back and acted like a senior and did a really nice job for us.”

Carr netted his second off a swift bounce-shot that blew past Dutton for a 6-4 lead. Lisauskas then penetrated the Pioneers defense and added his second a few possessions later for a 7-4 edge.

Saggese answered for SHU to make it 7-5, but Jeff Trainor netted a wide-open shot from the middle to take back the three-goal lead entering the second half.

Devin Spencer kicked off the second half, giving UMass a 9-5 lead before Julian Garritano answered on the other end to keep SHU competitive with 9:23 remaining in the third quarter.

Connolly made it 10-6 off a long feed from Carr, who found him posted on the left side of the night for an easy dump behind Dutton. SHU found itself on the man-advantage after Lisauskas was called for pushing. Garritano capitalized with his second goal to pull the Pioneers within 10-7 with 3:51 left in the third.

Following a Carr goal, Dom St. Laurent sent a nice feed to a cutting Connolly, who backhanded his shot past Dutton to extend the lead 12-7 with seconds remaining before the final quarter.

“We have a lot of trust in Chris. He was on the receiving end of a lot of couple transition goals and that’s what the attack’s job is to do,” Cannella said. “Chris is a great kid and he’s got a really good feel for the game. He’s improved almost every day since he’s been here since September.”

SHU won the opening fourth-quarter faceoff and Garritano sent home his third goal, easing the Pioneer deficit to four. Connolly answered with his fourth goal with just over 12 minutes remaining.

The Pioneers capitalized on their third man-advantage opportunity midway through the fourth but it wasn’t enough.

Sconone finished with 15 saves for the Minutemen, while Dutton deflected eight.

“It’s really hard to change from Saturday to Tuesday anyways when you don’t practice on Sunday. Fortunately for us we finished shots,” Cannella said. “We just encouraged our guys to keep shooting and keep playing.”

South Hadley native TJ Fitzell started at midfield and had one groundball.