UMass Piecing Things Together Entering CAA Play

PHOTO BY THOM KENDALL / UMASS ATHLETICS

The Minutemen split two games when fifth-year senior Kevin Tobin was out, but he’s since returned and had four goals and an assist Saturday against Brown.


There’s no one way to explain UMass’ four-game winning streak entering CAA play.

As coach Greg Cannella sees it, the Minutemen have simply gotten used to a lot of things.

They had injuries, and that’s an obvious problem. The teams they lost to during a 1-3 start — Army, Boston University and Yale — are a combined 18-5. UMass also has two new assistant coaches, which was bound to create a bit of an adjustment.

“It takes time to establish who you are, your identity and who you want to be and who you’re going to try to be every day,” Cannella said. “Hopefully, some of that is settled and we can just go out and play games now.”

One area that clearly has improved over the last four games is a defense allowing just 8.25 goals per game in that span after yielding 13 goals a contest in the first four outings. The latest victory was probably the most impressive defensive showing of the year for the Minutemen, a 10-7 defeat of Brown as goalie Matt Knote made 14 saves.

Just as important in holding things together is fifth-year senior Sam Eisenstadt, who is in his fourth year as a starter on the close defense unit.

“He’s been a super leader in the locker room and off the field,” Cannella said. “I think that over the first couple weeks that maybe wasn’t there as much as it is now. People have cued in on him, what he’s had to say and how he’s led, which is obviously a tremendous benefit to all of us.”







While UMass is clearly thriving on defense, it has adjusted to losing two critical pieces — one temporarily and one for the rest of the year. The Minutemen split two games when fifth-year senior Kevin Tobin was out, but he’s since returned and had four goals and an assist Saturday against Brown.

UMass wasn’t so fortunate with another fifth-year mainstay. Chris Connolly, who missed all but two games last season with a torn ACL, suffered an Achilles tendon tear in a February 26 loss to Boston University.

“You’re scrapping a little bit for the other guys to jump in there and take over,” Cannella said. “That’s a really hard thing to ask, two fifth-year guys you have to replace, that experience and leadership on the field.”

Connolly reached the 50-point plateau in 2018 and 2019, leaving a big hole. The Minutemen have spread things out heading into Saturday’s meeting with Delaware, with five players collecting at least 10 goals but none with more than Gabriel Procyk’s 18. Procyk and Tobin share the team lead in points with 23.

Cannella is hopeful the Minutemen have found a formula that can work in CAA play. If nothing else, UMass has already seen a lot this season — and it should have some value over the next six weekends.

“You keep harping on the experiences that they’ve had, not only within our games but within practice but trying to move people around and then within games,” Cannella said. “Losing a couple close ones, winning a couple close ones, doing it differently, being able to come back in a game and being able to hold someone off at the end of a game, kind of manage the fourth quarter.”

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