UMass men’s lacrosse faces character test in home opener with Sacred Heart

Monday, February 12, 2018

UMass men’s lacrosse coach Greg Cannella wasn’t expecting his team to face a character test this early in the season.

But after Saturday’s 18-6 loss at No. 16 Army, the longtime Minuteman coach is eager to see how his team responds when it hosts Sacred Heart, Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Garber Field.

“It was an awful start for us. We thought we were ready to play. We went out there and didn’t execute,” said Cannella, whose team was 7-8 overall, 3-2 in the CAA last year. “It was disappointing. They guys have to respond to some adversity and hopefully play better.

“I’m hoping to see more togetherness on the field and for them to stick with our principles,” Cannella continued. “On Saturday when things went south, guys did their own thing. That not right and it’s not how they’re coached. It’s something that has to change that’s for sure.”

The bright spots from Saturday were goalie Sean Sconone, who had 15 saves, and faceoff specialist Noah Rak. The senior won 12 of 19 draws and scored two goals. Junior Isaac Paparo, a preseason all-conference, figures to lead the team on close defense.

The Minutemen don’t have a player who’ll likely put up big individual numbers offensively. They’ll be looking to get production from up and down the roster.

“It’s going to come from a lot of different guys. We’re not one-dimensional in any sense,” Cannella said. “We need consistency from the upperclassmen in the midfield. We’re starting a freshman (Chris Connolly) and two sophomores (Devin Spencer and Jesse Leung) on attack so it’s going to be a little bit of a rocky road with those guys. It’s going to be about spreading it out. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of assisted goals.”

Tuesday’s game starts a stretch of five out of six at Garber Field. Cannella thought he’d learn something about his team by Tuesday night.

“I think they were a little nervous and a little tentative. Army was not nervous and not tentative and they took it to us,” Cannella said. “Are they going to be hanging their heads and sulking or are they going to come out and play hard.”

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