UMass flips the script on Georgetown
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Christian Hain got his first career start against rival Georgetown, a team the Massachusetts senior had never beaten.
He made the most of it.
After teammate Steve A'Mario tied the score at 12 with 1:29 remaining during the second game of the Warrior Classic at Rentschler Field, Hain finished the job by scoring from the lefty wing with 33.6 seconds left. Tom Celentani forced Andrew Brancaccio to turnover the ball on the next play to seal the win.
"I got a step, I've been practicing it all week, got my shot and took it," said Hain, who has nine goals on the season.
The 13-12 nailbiter was UMass' first win against its former ECAC rival since 2005.
"The seniors had been talking all week about how they hadn't beaten Georgetown," said freshman Will Manny. "We had a tough week of practice, we just wanted to work hard and run hard, and it worked out. Everyone contributed."
"It's a great feeling. You aspire to beat programs with the stature of Georgetown," said UMass coach Greg Cannella. "The way they play the game -- they play it all out. They play a run-'n-gun style, that's the way we like to play. When you win a game, playing your style, and allowing your guys to play the way it should be [played], there's nothing better for them or for us as coaches."
From 2000 to 2009, UMass and Georgetown shared at least a piece of the conference title in every season except 2008. The Hoyas are now a member of the Big East conference; the Minutemen play in the Colonial Athletic Association. Because of the conference realignment, this may have been the last time the teams will meet during the regular season.
"It's been a great, competitive game for us with them for some time, both teams go after each other pretty hard," said Georgetown coach Dave Urick. "We'd do everything we could to keep them on the schedule. What you're seeing now is a lot of conference games and conference tournaments being moved into the month of April."
Close games aren't unusual in this series; the average difference in the series is two goals, with five decided by one goal.
High scores aren't unusual either -- UMass ranks eighth in the nation in goals per game (12.3) and Georgetown is 12th (11.4).
What was unusual was the outcome. Georgetown entered the game with a dominating record in the rivalry (7-3) and the No. 13 ranking in the Inside Lacrosse Top 20. UMass had dropped two games prior to Saturday's Warrior Classic finale, including last week's loss to Delaware.
UMass got off to a quick start, scoring off the opening faceoff to take the 1-0 lead. Over four quarters, the game saw eight ties and six lead changes, thanks to an offensive outpouring from both teams. UMass freshman attackman Will Manny recorded his fifth hat-trick of the season, while teammates D'Amario, Bobby Hayes and Anthony Biscardi each chipped in two goals a piece.
Brancaccio powered Georgetown's offense with five goals, while Max Seligmann, Scott Kocis and Ricky Mirabito each added two.
"Andrew is a big time shooter, that's what we're about offensively -- middie play," said Urick.
Saturday's win should help UMass' NCAA tournament résumé. The Minutemen close out the regular season by traveling to Drexel on May 1, and then will play for the CAA's auto bid in the conference tournament. Even if UMass doesn't clinch the CAA championship, wins over Hofstra and Georgetown should help the Minutemen earn an at-large bid.
Georgetown's postseason future isn't as rosy.
"I'm sure a lot of guys in that locker room believe our postseason opportunity just went down the drain," said Urick. "We looked at it, somewhat realistically, that we needed to win these three games to have a shot at [making the NCAA tournament]. But from my standpoint, we have to get our guys ready to play Rutgers next weekend. Our mantra has always been the only game we want to win is the next one."
At this point in the year, winning the next one is every team's goal.
Lauren Reynolds covers college sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.