Stalwart Defense Leads UMass To 6-4 Win Over #16 Lehigh On ESPNU

Manny’s 17th career hat trick sparks Minutemen; Jake Smith leads defense with season-high four caused turnovers

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – UMass men’s lacrosse used a stout defensive performance over the second half to secure a 6-4 victory at No. 16 Lehigh during the ESPNU Game of the Week on Wednesday evening. Senior attack Will Manny earned a trio of goals, including the game-winner, to pace the offense while the Minutemen held the Mountain Hawks to only one tally in the final half to claim the win at the Ulrich Sports Complex.

Senior attack Kyle Smith notched a multi-point performance on a goal and assist while freshman attack Dan Muller and sophomore attack Grant Whiteway earned one mark each. Senior Jake Smith led the defense with four groundballs and a season-high four caused turnovers while junior midfielder Joe Calvello won 8-of-14 faceoffs, including seven of the final 10, and scooped up five groundballs.

Lehigh (5-4 overall) notched consecutive goals to open scoring in the contest before Kyle Smith recorded the first UMass tally of the day to cut the deficit in half. Smith moved from behind the cage and placed a shot into the top-left corner with 4:21 to play in the first.

UMass (4-4) clamped down over the remainder of the quarter to keep Lehigh to a pair of a tallies in the first, including stifling a non-releasable penalty in the final minutes. After Ryan Izzo was called for an illegal check, the Minutemen limited the Mountain Hawks to one off-target attempt while the man-up scoring opportunity ended when junior James Fahey intercepted a pass attempt by Alan Henderson.

Muller equalized the contest at two during the first minute of the second quarter. Muller drove toward the right post and shot low into the left side at the 14:18 mark, the freshman midfielder’s fourth goal of the season.

Lehigh rallied with a tally from Henderson to take a 3-2 lead before the Minutemen closed out the half with a pair of goals to earn a 4-3 halftime advantage. Sophomore midfielder Brendan Schroeder earned his first collegiate assist as UMass evened the score at 3-3 with 11:39 left. Schroeder sent a pass to Whiteway at the left of the net, with Whiteway reaching out to place an attempt by Lehigh goalie Matt Poillon.

The Minutemen went ahead on Manny’s first goal of the day with 3:21 to play in the second. Junior midfielder Matt Whippen started the play behind the net and sent a pass to Kyle Smith in front. Smith moved the ball to the crease on a pass to Manny, with the Massapequa, N.Y., native notching the tally on a shot at the front of the cage.

UMass doubled its lead in the third quarter on Manny’s second consecutive tally. Senior midfielder Colin Fleming fired an on-target attempt that was stopped in front and looped over the cage to Manny. The senior attack snagged the ball out of the air, wrapped around the right post and shot into left side with 6:08 remaining in the quarter.

Manny added his third of the game to complete the hat trick with 5:06 remaining. Whippen held the play behind the net and directed a pass to Manny at the right post, with Manny sending a shot into the top-left for the 6-4 advantage.

Lehigh led in shots, 24-23 and groundballs, 28-26 while both squads finished 0-for-1 on man-up situations. The Minutemen forced the Mountain Hawks into 19 turnovers while committing 17. UMass redshirt-freshman goalie Zach Oliveri finished with nine saves while Poillon turned aside 13 attempts for Lehigh.

UMass returns to action on Saturday, March 23, with a 7 p.m. contest at Hartford.