In previewing the first round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament, ESPN's Quint Kessenich expects UMass "will play with a chip on its shoulder as the undefeated No. 6 seed." The Minutemen play Colgate on Saturday (2:30 p.m.) at Amherst in a game on ESPNU and ESPN3.com.
Here's Kessenich's breakdown of the game:
These two teams are a combined 28-3. UMass (15-0) will play with a chip on its shoulder as the undefeated No. 6 seed. Its 11 seniors get to play a final game on Garber Field and will be flying around with great passion. It's still hard to tell how good this team is. Its wins are over teams rated 16, 17, 19, 20 and 27 in the RPI. It did not play a single team in the tournament field.
That being said, coach Greg Cannella has made a run late into May. The team's stats are really solid. In the Minutemen's past 61 games, they are 58-3 when scoring more than 10 goals. They face off well, and scrap for ground ball and possession dominance (plus-3.9 per game), and goalie Tim McCormack makes saves at a high rate. Can Tom Celentani cover Peter Baum? If Colgate is hesitant to slide, Anthony Biscardi might be the key chess piece. One Achilles' heel would be an affinity for taking penalties, which will hurt against a Raiders EMO group that clicks at 50 percent.
First-year coach Mike Murphy has Colgate (13-3) playing fast. The Raiders score 13.56 goals per game, force lots of turnovers, ride well and are the No. 5-rated ground ball team. Peter Baum leads the nation in points. Freshman Ryan Walsh has hit the net 33 times, and underrated midfielder Jeff Ledwick has 44 points. Defensively, they are slow to slide.
This game will be a street fight, an entertaining slugfest for fans.
For a preview of the rest of the first-round games, click here.