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Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: UMass

The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Massachusetts Minutemen, located in Amherst, MA.

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

UMass went 7-8 in 2013 after a superb 2012, which has seen the program go 15-1. UMass started 2013 out right with 3 wins, especially as one of them was a 12-11 win over then #1 UNC. An OT loss to Brown and three straight losses to Top 20 teams put UMass at 3-4, but wins over Lehigh and Hartford got the Minutemen back on track and playing with a winning record. Three straight losses (two to Top 20 teams), two wins and a loss to finish up there year gave UMass a 7-8 mark, and a disappointing finish.

2014 should see UMass with a similar strength of schedule. Some opponents have been changed out, but UMass has retained a challenging but winnable slate of games. Early games with Army, Brown, Harvard, Ohio State, and Albany will tell us a lot about where UMass sits, but let’s try to figure some of this out before they open the season with the Army Black Knights on February 9th.

Kyle Smith, Will Manny, and Bobby Tyler have all graduated, and that’s a good chunk of UMass’ offense right there. Those three players take 103 points with them, and they also take away a lot of the ball handling experience on offense. Grant Whiteway and Connor Mooney return on attack, and both produced good numbers last year. Andrew Sokol and Matt Whippen could also see time down low, and could run through the midfield, giving UMass some diverse options. It is worth noting that Sokol, Whiteway, Mooney, and Whippen are all Massachusetts natives.

Dan Muller and Sean Cleary could contribute more this year, and UMass has some talented freshman playing attack and midfield, with many of them coming from New York state. Joe Calvello won 58% of his face off attempts last year, and he returns for his Senior year, giving UMass good midfield stability.

Kyle Karaska and James Fahey will be leaders on defense. Karaska saw good time last year when Fahey was injured, and both bring back experience and ability, which is important as UMass graduated some serious talent down low in Jake Smith and LSM Brett Tobin.  Tom McLaughlin, Bob Fahey, and Peter Von Rosevinge have seen some time in the past and could be asked to step up. There are also three freshman poles on the roster, and one of them is a 6’7″ Canadian. High hopes there! Zach Oliveri returns in goal for year 2, and even with an inexperienced D in front of him, Oliveri could be a game changer in net.

UMass has strength in their midfield, and some scoring talent down at attack. They are solid in net, and have a couple poles who can clearly play. If they can fill those final spots down low and one of their poles can step in for Tobin, UMass should be looking up in 2014. I’d expect a winning record from the Minutemen in 2014, but probably nothing like what we saw in 2012.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBostonBrownBryantBucknellCanisius,
Colgate,  CornellDartmouthDelawareDetroitDrexelDukeFairfieldFurman,
GeorgetownHartfordHarvardHigh PointHobartHofstraHoly CrossJacksonvilleJohns HopkinsLafayetteLehighLoyolaManhattanMaristMarquette, and Maryland.