Last week, we spotlighted the America East conference. This week, Under the Radar is diving into the Colonial Athletic Association. If the America East has been NCAA Men’s Division I lacrosse’s biggest disappointment so far this season, the CAA (along with the southern) might be its biggest pleasant surprise so far. Sporting a former No. 1 team and some underrated depth in the conference, like the UMass Minutemen, the CAA deserves your love this week!
Under the Radar Team of the Week: UMass Minutemen
Well, Towson is the big story. The second-place team in the CAA right now is none other than Delaware, who we’ve talked about previously on UTR, due to the stellar play of their goalie, Matt DeLuca. Honestly, there are three teams I considered mentioning here. Delaware is more than worthy of this spot after a 6-1 start, but we’ve been over it some. Drexel is off to an underrated start, and just knocked Villanova off. But this week, we’re going to take a minute to look at, well, the Minutemen. Yes, it’s UMass up on the docket this week for Under the Radar’s Team of the Week.
UMass might be on the radar more if their scheduler didn’t so clearly want to test their patience to start the year. Their opening slate has already featured Army, Ohio State, Yale, and Albany. Minus Albany (hey, it looked good on paper in January), that’s a tough slate of games, and it’s also where their three losses have come from so far. However, they’ve put the Big Fear into all three of those teams. Army and Yale both escaped with overtime wins, and Ohio State only won by four. Playing the what-if game, this team could be 5-1 with wins over Army and Yale if OT goes the other way. That’s a great resume. OT losses worsen it, but by how much?
A quick browse of the UMass Minutemen’s remaining schedule looks like a team that should be favored in all but one or two games from here on out. I’d take them as straight-up favorites in every remaining game, excluding Towson and possibly Brown. Why? In a word, balance. UMass isn’t necessarily the best at any one thing, but they do everything well. Their goalie, senior Sean Sconone, saves 58% of shots. Their faceoff unit wins 62% of their draws. Their man-up converts 46% of the time. Despite three losses, their goal differential is +15. This is just a solid, jack-of-all-trades type squad that can hang with dang near anybody because of their relative lack of gaps in their game.
Offensively, it starts with Chris Connolly, who sits at #8 in the nation in assists. The sophomore is the quarterback of the offense, but their stud freshman, Gabriel Procyk of Coquitlam, has helped to open up the offense as a dangerous offensive threat, with sixteen goals thus far. Seven players already have 5+ goals, making this a deep offense. Defensively, Sconone has been a brick wall in cage, and is killing it in the ground ball game too. Senior defenseman Isaac Paparo is also vacuuming up GBs, while providing a good option down low as a pairing with Dan O’Brien.
If UMass comes into Towson 8-3, that could be a game with major playoff implications, and a potential top-fifteen matchup to boot. Keep an eye on these Minutemen.