UMass lacrosse: Minutemen draw Richmond in Atlantic 10 semifinals

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-03-2023 8:28 PM

Matt Knote is a rock, steady and consistent.

The UMass men’s lacrosse team relies on its senior goalie. He’s proven more than reliable, leading the Atlantic 10 and ranking third in the country with an 8.89 goals against average. Knote saves 59.7 percent of the shots he faces, 13 per game (No. 14 nationally), which leads the country.

“You’ve got a guy back there that the defense feels very comfortable playing in front of. They’re confident if they make mistakes, Matt will cover them up,” UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “For the team, Matt has also provided great leadership. That’s even more important, the leadership aspect of your players. If your better players are tremendous leaders, it really helps.”

UMass (9-4, 4-1 Atlantic 10) boasts the country’s No. 3 scoring defense allowing just nine goals per game. They only allow man down goals 76.9 percent of the time, third in the country.

“We’ve been a very strong defensive team, a grind it out team between the lines team with tremendous athletes, great footwork,” Cannella said. “There’s a certain tenacity that you need to be able to cover guys in lacrosse one-on-one. They’re able to possess the ball so well in their stick, it’s not like hockey where the puck is loose, or soccer. It takes a certain amount of tenacity and will that all these guys have.”

They’ll need every bit of it to keep their season going. The third-seeded Minutemen open the inaugural Atlantic 10 Conference tournament at 8 p.m. Thursday against No. 2 Richmond on the Spiders’ home field (ESPN-Plus). Richmond (9-4, 4-1) won the teams’ only meeting on April 8, 13-12.

“We’ve done this trip, we’re experienced in it. We lost the game by a goal right at the end of the game,” Cannella said. “We obviously know we can compete with Richmond, and it’s going to be our job to eliminate some of the mistakes we made.”

Richmond’s Dalton Young leads the league distributing 2.69 assists per game. The Spiders have the A-10’s second-most effective man up attack (44.4 percent).

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“They’re a very good team, disciplined, loaded with some talent. You make small mistakes, they’re gonna make you pay for it,” Cannella said.

UMass will counter with Gabriel Procyk’s 35 points and 21 goals. The Minutemen have six double-digit scorers.

The Minutemen are 0-2 against the two teams above them in the seed list (Richmond and No. 1 Saint Joseph’s) but lost each game by just a goal.

“Our group’s been a real positive group throughout the year,” Cannella said. “I expect us to go down there and perform at a high level.”

UMass hasn’t won a conference title or even reached the championship game since 2018 in the Colonial Athletic Association, its last NCAA tournament berth. The semifinal winners play for the A-10 title on Saturday at noon.

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