UMass 'Went For It' in Upset Win of Then-No. 1 Yale


Gabriel Procyk has scored 13 goals this season.

From Massachusetts’ perspective, there isn’t much sense in dwelling on an ugly 17-4 loss to Army to open the season. Or to explain why the Minutemen had a lackluster first half in a one-goal loss to Harvard.

The Minutemen (4-2) have been unpredictable, yes. But they’ve also rattled off three victories in a row, with a gem of a 13-10 upset of then-No. 1 Yale wedged in the middle of their winning streak.

How to explain that particular performance?

“I just think we went for it,” Massachusetts coach Greg Cannella said. “You have to do it in every game. You only get 14 of them. There’s no sense in holding back. We can’t get back the Army game and the Harvard game, so I think this group realized going into this stretch when we played UMass Lowell, Yale and Albany that they don’t have a lot of time left.”

UMass, which also toppled Ohio State on the road between its early losses, is playing like the Colonial Athletic Association favorite it was at the start of the season. And much of it stems from an offense that was expected to carry things as the Minutemen sorted out how to replace some big personalities at the other end of the field.

But it was a group that wasn’t playing together, something that has changed over the last two weeks. Redshirt-senior midfielder Billy Philpott has consecutive four-goal games, and with 13 goals on the season, he’s three shy of the career-high he set last season. Junior Chris Connolly had four goals and four assists against Albany and has a team-high 11 assists. Gabriel Procyk (13) and Jeff Trainor (10) have reached double figures in goals.

“I do think there was a lot of frustration in the locker room, in our meetings,” Cannella said. “Perhaps the offensive guys got together and hashed some things out. We did a little bit in some meetings.”

Meanwhile, the Minutemen have received capable play on faceoffs and in the cage, positions that both opened as a result of graduation. Freshman Zack Hochman has won 58.2 percent of his draws, a number that jumps to 65.5 percent when his matchup against Yale star TD Ierlan is excluded. And freshman Matt Knote has stopped 52.3 percent of the shots on goal he’s faced.

While Knote has benefited from the tutelage of assistants Craig McDonald and Doc Schneider, the latter a former UMass goalie, Hochman has worked with volunteer assistant Noah Rak, the Minutemen’s all-time leader in faceoff wins.

“[Hochman] is a tough customer, and he’s a guy who will fight for ground balls,” Cannella said. “Matt Knote has done very well, and has double-digit saves in five out of six games. For both of those young guys, some of it has to do with being coachable.”

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