No. 1 Minutemen turn back Hofstra
FOXBOROUGH -Playing their first game as the nation’s top-ranked men’s lacrosse team, UMass barely escaped with a 14-13 win over Hofstra at the New England Lacrosse Classic on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
With the victory, the Minutemen (12-0) - tied for the top spot in the USILA Coaches Poll with Loyola (12-0) - took home their first Colonial Athletic Association regular-season title in only their third season in the league.
“That’s one of the things that these guys have worked for,’’ said UMass coach Greg Cannella of the CAA title. “I think our focus is on the next day now and trying to prepare moving forward.’’
After Colin Fleming’s second of the game put UMass up, 10-6, Hofstra went on a run, Mike DiNapoli kicking off a string of five straight Hofstra goals at 7:35 of the third period.
After Aaron Jones goal pulled the Pride within one, Steve Serling found DiNapoli, who ripped one high past McCormack to even the game, 10-10, with 13 seconds remaining in the third.
It was the first time all season that UMass had allowed double-digit goals.
Eight seconds into the final frame, the Pride gained their first lead as John Antoniades won the faceoff at midfield, scooped the ground ball, and shot it by UMass goalie Tim McCormack for an 11-10 advantage.
“They’re an explosive team,’’ said Cannella of Hofstra. “We didn’t make the saves we usually make and they won most of the draws on their runs.’’
Art Kell responded with his third of the game to tie the score at 11. Kyle Smith followed with an interception on a Hofstra clearing pass in the midfield, raced unabated toward Andrew Gvozden (14 saves), and fired it home for a lead that UMass would not relinquish.
“I kind of just baited the kid to throw the ball,’’ said Smith, who finished with three goals and two assists. “I actually didn’t think he was going to throw it. I got a little bit lucky, stepped in, and got the run down the field.’’
Fleming’s rocket at 6:02 and Anthony Biscardi’s second of the game at 5:00 gave the Minutemen a 14-11 cushion.
Hofstra goals by DiNapoli (4:10) and Lance Yapor (:45), put the Pride back within one, 14-13, but their attack ultimately fell short and McCormack (seven saves) picked off a last-second pass, and launched the ball as the final horn sounded.
UMass came out with purpose early, putting their first goal on the board at 13:57 of the first period when Fleming ripped a shot past Gvozden.
Connor Mooney, Will Manny, and Kell deposited goals that gave the Minutemen 4-0 lead by the 4:11 mark and McCormack came up with three big saves to keep Hofstra at bay.
Yapor fired a low shot past McCormack to get the Pride (6-7) on the board with just eight seconds remaining in the first quarter, making the score 4-1 after one.
In the earlier game, Greg Melaugh scored with 15 seconds to play to lift Merrimack over Bentley, 12-11.