Editor’s Note: Welcome Chuck Richardson to LAS! Chuck played his college ball at UGA and now works at EvoShield, as their Director of Lacrosse Operations. Chuck took in this weekend’s UMass – UNC game, which was a THRILLER, and writes his first D1 NCAA lacrosse recap for LAS. We’ll have more from Chuck moving forward, but man oh man… what a weekend!
The crowd at Kennesaw State University (GA) got all they were promised and more from the Southern Showdown between the UMass Minutemen and the UNC Tar Heels. The Heels dominated the first half in shots, face-offs, and clears, while also putting up 7 goals to UMass’ 4.
The final goal of the half came from an impressive coast to coast clear from UNC’s Davey Emala who then moved the ball to Marcus Holman for the score, leaving fans to think that the game was on the verge of becoming a runaway W for Carolina. However, Coach Canella must have said something to the Minutemen at half time, and it definitely worked.
UMass came out with a full head of steam and put up 2 unanswered goals to bring the score to 7-6 in the opening minutes of the 3rd quarter, essentially wiping out Carolina’s first half momentum. UNC and UMass went back and forth for the remainder of the 3rd quarter.
With 3:18 left in the 4th, UMass took the lead for the first time with a goal by Connor Mooney. UMass was up by 1, 12-11, when redshirt freshman goalie Zachary Oliveri then sealed the victory for the Minutemen with 0.5 seconds left in the game, saving the final shot by UNC’s Greg McBride off of a fast break opportunity.
UNC spread the ball around nicely with 8 players finding the net, led by Jimmy Bitter (2), Marcus Holman (2), and Spencer Parks (2). In the end, however, UMass had too much gas in the second half for Carolina. The Minutemen owned the 4th quarter, outscoring UNC 4-0. Oliveri would finish the game with an impressive 18 stops in all, while Kyle Smith and Connor Mooney would finish the day with hat tricks, both putting up 3 goals and 1 assist a piece.
This was an impressive victory for UMass, especially when you consider the Minutemen were playing without Senior Attack Will Manny, who was sidelined with a hand injury. The Minutemen had a strong showing from a number of young players besides Oliveri. Sophomores Andrew Sokol (2), Grant Whiteway (2), and Sean Cleary (1) combined for 5 goals.
I can tell you right now that this UMass team is good, but from the looks of things, they will only be getting better.
This wasn’t the only upset of the weekend either, as Lynchburg knocked off #1 in D3, Salisbury, 13-12, in Virginia! That’s a HUGE college lacrosse upset.