February 25, 2012

UMass Pulls Away from Ohio State in Second Half

by Tyler Robinson | LaxMagazine.com | Related: Live Blog Replay

UMass attackman Will Manny (two goals) put the Minutemen up 3-2 with seven seconds left in the first quarter, and they led the rest of the game.
© Richard Orr (file) 

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In the future perhaps Ohio State should avoid scheduling Massachusetts for its fourth game of the season.

In weather that was suited for a late-November Big Ten football game, No. 8 UMass pulled away in the second half Saturday to defeat No. 11 Ohio State, 9-3, at Ohio Stadium. It was the second year in a row that the Minutemen have handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season, also in the fourth game.

UMass improved to 3-0 while the Buckeyes fell to 3-1.

Junior attackers Kyle Smith and Colin Fleming led the way for UMass, each notching a hat trick. Fleming's first two goals came within a minute span during the first period, leveling what was an early 2-0 lead for the Buckeyes.

"They were big," UMass coach Greg Cannella said. "Ohio State's up 2-0 on us, so the first two were huge to tie the game up and to give our guys some hope at that point, because it didn't look good early in the game."

The Minutemen took the lead they would never relinquish when junior attacker Will Manny (two goals) gave UMass a 3-2 advantage with seven seconds left in the first quarter. Neither team scored in the second.

Ohio State junior attacker Logan Schuss gave the Buckeyes some life in the second half when his second goal of the game cut the Minutemen lead to 4-3. It was short lived though, as UMass tallied five unanswered goals to win convincingly.

"We had too many turnovers and I thought we got outworked on a couple of ground balls late in the second half," Ohio State coach Nick Myers said. "That's something that's going to leave a tough taste in our mouth this week because it's something that we pride ourselves on. Credit UMass, they picked up a couple [ground balls] in a critical one-goal game and that was what allowed them to separate."

Cannella said he was proud of how the UMass defense recovered after allowing two early goals to the Buckeyes.

"The defense played well, it's a group that needs to be challenged every week," Cannella said. "Certainly it was a challenge to come in here and play Ohio State, an outstanding offensive team."

The Minutemen converted on 3 of 5 man-advantage opportunities, while the Buckeyes came away goalless in three extra-man chances.

"We got great looks," Myers said. "We had three [man up] looks. That's what you work for in practice is great opportunities. The goalie, I'll have to look at the film, but he made some really nice stops."

Ohio State entered play averaging 12 goals per game but managed just three against the Minutemen. As the game wore on, Myers said the Buckeyes became discouraged by their lack of offensive production.

"Offensively they did a nice job of frustrating us and we got out of sync towards the end," Myers said. "In the second half the ball wasn't going in and the opportunities weren't falling for us. We allowed that to get to us and frustrate us. Ultimately, you've got to credit your opponent for that, but we've got to be much better on the offensive end of the field."

Last season the Buckeyes lost at UMass, 11-9, snapping Ohio State's three-game win streak to begin the year. The Buckeyes stumbled the rest of the season to finish 8-8, including a first-round defeat in the ECAC tournament.

Myers will try to make sure that this year's squad avoids a similar fate.

"You grow from wins and you grow from losses," Myers said. "We'll look at this and certainly we'll grow a great deal. We have a long way to go with this team. There's just a lot more for us to do in terms of improving to be the team that we want to be. We understand that, we'll get back to work Monday focus on a very good Penn State team."

While Ohio State prepares for the Nittany Lions, UMass will look ahead to Brown, its long-standing New England rival. Cannella was cautious about characterizing the victory against the Buckeyes as a "statement win" going forward.

"Every game you have got to get ready to play and if you're not ready to play then you're going to lose," Cannella said. "So you've just got to play those games and [Brown] is another game we get to play. It's too early for statement stuff. We'll have a chance later on the year and Ohio State's going be in the thick of it with their league as well, so it's a little bit early for that."

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