M. LACROSSE | Bulldogs eye revenge vs. No. 12 UMass

Tonight the men’s lacrosse team will look to avenge its worst loss of the 2009 season when the Bulldogs take on No. 12 UMass at Reese Stadium.

The Minuteman handed the Elis (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) an 18–6 clobbering in Amherst, Mass., last year. But Yale has come out on top in two of its past three encounters with UMass, and midfielder Matt Miller ’12 said the 2009 loss makes the team even more determined to win Friday.

“They were by far our worst loss last year. They just put it to us, and I think we were all really shell-shocked by that,” Miller said. “I think we just want to get revenge for that.”

The game has no impact on the Ancient Eight standings as the Minutemen (2–0) compete in the Colonial Athletic Association conference. But both Miller and head coach Andy Shay agreed that doesn’t make today’s contest any less important.

“They’re not a league game, so it’s obviously not as anticipated as playing at Princeton or Harvard, but every game is important for us,” Miller said. “This is one of the toughest games we’ll play all year, and these are the kind of games we need to win if we are going to make tournament.”

Added Shay, “They are a traditional power, and it’s a great measuring stick for us early in the season.”

Shay said the game will come down to execution.

A USILA Div. I Coaches Poll released Mar. 1 ranked UMass 12th in the nation, while a Nike/Inside Lacrosse Media Poll released the same day placed the team 16th among D-I programs. The Minutemen advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last season, where they fell to Princeton, 10–7.

This year UMass has totaled 35 goals in just two games — making it the No. 2 scoring offense among the country’s 58 D-I teams. The Minutemen top the rankings in assists per game (11.5) and points per game (29).

Midfielder Bobby Hayes currently leads UMass’s offense with an average of 3.5 goals per game, placing him 16th in the nation. Midfielder Greg Rushing also ranks 15th in the country with a .661 faceoff win percentage.

“They’re not a very complex team, and it’s pretty straightforward how they approach the game,” Shay said. “They’re big, fast, tough and physical, and we’re going to have to play a solid game.”

Still, last year that straightforward approach was enough to foil the Elis.

“They just beat us in every category,” Miller said of the 2009 loss. “They beat us to ground balls, they out-hustled us, they outshot us.”

But Yale is looking to turn things back around this season. And with just one game under their belts, the Bulldogs have already posted some formidable statistics as well.

The Elis notched a 14–7 win against Holy Cross in their season opener last weekend. Attackers Matt Gibson ’12 and Brendan Gibson ’10 led Yale’s offense against the Crusaders, combing for seven of Yale’s 14 goals. Midfielder Max Rodman ’10 won 16 of 24 faceoffs in his first game as Yale’s starting faceoff man, and goalie Johnathan Falcone ’11 made seven saves in the final 60 seconds of the game alone.

Gibson also had four goals and two assists in the season opener.

Today’s contest against UMass is slated for a 7 p.m start at Reese Stadium.

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