NCAA Team Reviews: UMass Minutemen

Photo credit to UMass Athletics
Photo credit to Thom Kendall – UMass Athletics

For the better part of four months, many of us watched some exciting college lacrosse, whether it was on TV, online, or in person.  There were good games, which included all of Championship Weekend, and there were bad games, such as low scoring affairs and of course, the horrendous winter weather.  I take a look back at all 69 Division I teams and how they fared this season and what to look forward to in 2016.

Check out previous recaps: NJIT Highlanders, UMass Lowell River Hawks, VMI Keydets, Manhattan Jaspers, Canisius Golden Griffins, Robert Morris Colonials, St. John’s Red Storm, Wagner Seahawks, Binghamton Bearcats, Bellarmine Knights, Jacksonville Dolphins, Furman Paladins, Lafayette Leopards, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, Siena Saints, Delaware Blue Hens, UMBC Retrievers, Dartmouth Big Green, Providence Friars, Mercer Bears, Penn State Nittany Lions, Hofstra Pride, Michigan Wolverines


2014 Record 7-6
2014 Conference Record 1-4 (Last in CAA)
2014 Scoring Offense 9.15 Goals Per Game (45th in DI)
2014 Scoring Defense 9.69 Goals Against Per Game (28th in DI)
2014 Goals Leader #23 Nick Mariano – Freshman (29 Gs)
2014 Assists Leader #26 Connor Mooney – Senior (20 As)
2014 Points Leader #23 Nick Mariano – Freshman (39 Pts)
2014 Goaltending Leader #29 Zach Oliveri – R-Sophomore (.530 SV %)
2014 Face-Off Leader #11 Joe Calvello – Senior (.568 FO %)
2014 Ground Balls Leader #11 Joe Calvello – Senior (98 GBs)
2014 Caused Turnovers Leader #12 James Fahey – Senior (20 CTs)
2014 Quality Wins Ohio State (12-11 OT), Penn State (8-6)
2014 Bad Losses Towson (6-5), Delaware (15-7)


2015 Record 5-10
2015 Conference Record 2-3 (4th in CAA)
2015 Scoring Offense 9.73 Goals Per Game (39th in DI)
2015 Scoring Defense 10.73 Goals Against Per Game (42nd in DI)
2015 Goals Leaders #23 Nick Mariano – Sophomore (22 Gs)
#40 Brendan Hegarty – Sophomore (22 Gs)
2015 Assists Leader #23 Nick Mariano – Sophomore (20 As)
2015 Points Leader #23 Nick Mariano – Sophomore (42 Pts)
2015 Goaltending Leader #29 Zach Oliveri – R-Junior (.505 SV %)
2015 Face-Off Leader #30 Noah Rak – Freshman (.504 FO %)
2015 Ground Balls Leader #28 Austin Spencer – Sophomore (58 GBs)
2015 Caused Turnovers Leader #37 Kyle Karaska – Junior (18 CTs)
2015 Quality Wins Drexel (12-9), Fairfield (9-8)
2015 Bad Losses Hartford (15-8), Towson (9-8)


The Minutemen weren’t as bad as they were on paper in 2015, although they started the season with five straight losses against ranked or would-be ranked teams. The brutal winter up in Massachusetts didn’t help either. But the Minutemen would recover in time for CAA play and ended up playing for the conference championship against Towson, falling by just a goal off of a behind-the-back shot immediately after a groundball pickup.

The opening month was not the best of times for UMass, starting with a 12-7 loss to Army. It didn’t get better the week after, going down to beautiful Chapel Hill to take on UNC, only to get a nightmare of a loss in a 20-8 affair. Then came a pair of Ivy League opponents in Harvard and streaking Brown, before falling to Albany 10-9 after trying to pull a 4th quarter rally together. But as the weather improved, so did the Minutemen, as they went on a three game winning streak against Quinnipiac, Penn State, and Hofstra in their CAA opener. But then came three more losses, this time against Towson and Fairfield, before losing to Hartford, approaching their final two CAA games at home. It was the first time the team played at Garber Field in the season when they played Drexel to a 12-9 win in mid-April, before falling to Delaware 10-9 in the season finale, but got into the CAA Tournament thanks to some help. They took on top-seeded Fairfield in the semifinals and held off a late Stag flurry of goals with about two minutes left in the game to face Towson in the CAA Championship. Tied at eight, a flurry of activity in front of goaltender Zach Oliveri resulted in a quick groundball behind-the-back goal by Towson’s Justin Mabus for the eventual game winner for the Tigers to end the Minutemen’s season.

Top scorers in Nick Mariano and Brendan Hegarty have two years left for the Minutemen, but Oliveri’s decision to spend his final year of eligibility at Stony Brook hurts. D.J. Smith and Dan Dolan are the only returning goaltenders for UMass. UMass had one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the entire nation, and it may have hurt them along with the fact that the winter may have slowed the development of the team. If the team plays as well as they did in the second half of 2015, they can certainly compete in the CAA entering next season.


Billy Philpott Midfield Tabor Academy (MA)
Tyler Bogart Attack Catholic Memorial (MA)/Brewster Academy (NH)
Pat Morris Midfield St. Anthony’s (NY)
Tim Gillis Defense/LSM Cohasset (MA)
John Tierney Midfield Wilbraham & Monson (MA)
Ben Spencer Midfield Monte Vista (CA)
Greg Pandise Defense/LSM Salisbury School (CT)
Isaac Paparo LSM Staples (CT)
Hunter Hazen Defense Maine-Endwell (NY)
Dan Tracy Defense/LSM Fox Lane (NY)
Sean Sconone Goalie East Islip (NY)
Tom Meyers Midfield/FO Radnor (PA)
Shane Madden Attack/Midfield Brookfield (CT)/Trinity-Pawling (NY)

The Minutemen will replace seven departing players with 13 incoming recruits for 2016. Some of these players, such as Greg Pandise, could help the team as early as next season. Tom Meyers was one of Pennsylvania’s best face-off specialists in his four years at Radnor, and was a key part in the state championship game earlier in the month against St. Joe’s Prep, and he could compete with Noah Rak for the starting face-off job in the spring.