UMass Militia November Wrap-Up

By: Freeman Alfano, Brianna Repetto

UMass Hockey

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

Going back to the beginning of November, the UMass Minutemen began the month with a big win over Northeastern 6-3. With a tough loss against them only a few weeks prior, the Minutemen came back with a determination to win. I was there to see Northeastern’s home arena populated by students, parents, alum, and overall fans, none of which can organize a proper chant. While attending, their so called “Dog House” failed to reach the level of intensity as the Militia. This played into Northeastern’s game play as they failed to hold their two-goal lead that they asserted in the very start of the game. With goals by Bobby Trivigno and a second by John Leonard, UMass caught up and evened the score 2-2. With the momentum rolling, the Minutemen continued to push hard and scored a phenomenal four goals in the second period alone. The other goals of the period were scored by Matthew Kessel and Mitchell Chaffee. By the end of the second period, Reed Lebester scored his fourth of the season and John Leonard got a hat trick during the night by scoring an empty net goal. By the end of the game, Northeastern’s once preppy and slightly unorganized student section was a little more sad and subdued, while the few traveling UMass fans were jumping for joy over a big 6-3 win. 

The following day Northeastern came to Mullins to face the Minutemen at home. With a first period that seemed to hold a scoreless game, John Leonard got a huge breakaway and put the puck in the back of the net with 9.6 seconds remaining, putting the Minutemen up 1-0. The UMass student section lit up with the advantage going into the second, and as the new goal song got tons of use, the entirety of Mullins was full of eager fans determined to hold this lead. The Minutemen pushed their lead higher with a goal in the second by Jeremy Davidson, but Northeastern came back to tie 2-2 by the end of the period. With tension now rising, the chants and enthusiasm never wavered as the beginning of the third was reached and the journey to the end of the game was coming closer. One minute and fifty-four seconds into the third, John Leonard added another goal onto the board and put the Minutemen back in the lead! At the end of the game, Mitchell Chaffee put UMass up 4-2 with an empty net goal and Matt Murray got a rare assist. Murray also finished the game with 16 saves as UMass yet again outshot the opposing team 34-18. 

The week after, the Minutemen faced the University of New Hampshire away and lost 3-1.  The game started out scoreless until the second period, when a goal by Mitchell Chaffee put UMass in the lead. However, with a dismal seven penalties, UNH managed to get two goals of their own and finished the game with one more to give them a two-goal advantage win. However, the game was fairly close in shots on goal with it being 29-28 UMass and both teams getting one goal each on the powerplay. 

Another week went by and the Minutemen yet again faced a tough opponent when they traveled back to Boston to play Boston University. Between the first and second period, BU managed to prevail with a 4-0 lead. It wasn’t until the third period that the Minutemen began putting pucks into the net, they managed to get three goals to make the game 4-3 which were scored  by Gianfranco Cassaro, Oliver Chau, and Zac Jones

With tension high from the night before, the Minutemen were not looking to repeat a loss against BU. As the game began, BU piled into the sin bin to give the Minutemen a 5-on-3 powerplay which set up the first goal by Mitchell Chaffee. In the second period BU managed to get a goal of their own to tie the game 1-1. The Mullins Center quickly picked up the “Let’s Go UMass” cheers and helped cheer on our team as best as they could. When entering into the third, it seemed as if the whole arena was ready for a big win, one happily achieved when three additional goals were scored by UMass to give the Minutemen their 4-1 victory. The goals were scored by Mitchell Chaffee (his second of the night), Matthew Kessel, and Colin Felix, who got his first of the season. The game ended with a huge shot difference of 47-17 shots on goal and 16 saves by Filip Lindberg. To top it all off, the coach of BU, Albie O’Connell, got suspended one game for “post game behavior.” Now, not a lot is said about what that behavior was, but I guess losing 4-1 was substantial enough that he did something to miss their next game against Vermont.

November 22 was when the Minutemen took on their next opponent, Merrimack College. The Mullins Center was underpopulated due to the fact that break had begun and everyone was traveling home. A few fans stuck around, however, and kept the student section as alive as possible to cheer on the Minutemen as they fought hard for another week. Merrimack placed themselves on the board first only to be matched twelve seconds later by a big goal from Mitchell Chaffee. Mullins Center lit up with hope by coming back from being down and got right into the cheers and banter. The second period stretched on with neither teams being able to score, but later into the third Bobby Trivingo scored to make it 2-1 UMass! However, Merrimack came back to tie and once again the arena was filled with tension as we await the outcome. The third period ended and the game went into overtime. One minute in, Bobby Trivingo scored and it seemed as if the Minutemen had come out victorious. However, the referees reviewed the play and called back the goal with the assumption that it was “kicked in.” It wasn’t a loss, but the Minutemen were definitely not happy about how the game ended. Luckily for UMass, they got a chance to redeem themselves the following night.

Coming off a tie against Merrimack, UMass was determined for a big win. The Minutemen faced them away and played hard, despite two goals by Merrimack in the second. However, at 15:08 in the second, Cal Kiefiuk put the puck in the back of the net, getting UMass on the board. The game wasn’t over yet as the third period began and Merrimack desperately tried to hold onto their lead. To their dismay, Ty Farmer scored late into the third, tying the game. It was a repeat from the night before: tied game in the third, both teams fighting to win. At 19:08 in the third, Cal Kiefiuk scored his second of the night, putting UMass up 3-2 with 42 seconds remaining. Your UMass Minutemen got their well-deserved victory and went home yet again as winners. 

During the break, the Minutemen faced Quinnipiac University away. The game started off scoreless and it seemed to be a fairly-matched game between the two teams. However, the Minutemen battled hard and Cal Kiefiuk redirected the puck into the back of the net, putting UMass up 1-0 in the second. This of course angered Quinnipiac fans, but in their minds they had the rest of the game to go; unfortunately for them, they didn’t ever get a goal. The game continued into the third and things got way out of hand. Fights broke out due to Quinnipiac’s frustration that they couldn’t get on the board. When Quinnipiac was hoping to come back to tie 1-1, Bobby Trivingo scored to make it 2-0 and the crowd was not too happy about that one, except for the traveling UMass fans who were more than ecstatic. Mitchell Chaffee finished the game with an empty netter in the third making it 3-0, scoring his eleventh of the season. Chaffee’s goal also cleaned out the arena as all the Quinnipiac fans were tired of watching their team lose and they did the walk of shame out to their cars. Matt Murrary got his sixth career shutout as he saved all 24 shots on goal.

The Minutemen face Quinnipiac again at home on Saturday November 30. Be there at 7 pm to cheer on your UMass Minutemen! Go UMass! 

Men’s Basketball

Parker Peters, UMass Daily Collegian

After a tumultuous 2018-19 season under Head Coach Matt McCall, the Minutemen Men’s Basketball team started out the season red hot. They won their first five games, including a 46-point drubbing of Central Connecticut State and a nine-point win over a tournament team last year in Northeastern.

However, UMass followed up this impressive streak with losses against seventh-ranked Virginia, Saint John’s, and Rutgers. Despite the loss, the game against last year’s NCAA champion showed just how competitive they can be, as they cut the lead to just three points in the second half before the Cavaliers pulled away. 

The Minutemen currently have four players averaging double digit scoring with TJ Weeks, Carl Pierre, Tre Mitchell, and Sean East. Weeks leads the way with 15 points per game off the bench, and has shot over 54 percent this season from beyond the arc. His best game came against Rider last week when the freshman went six-for-six on his three-point attempts en route to  a 21 point performance.

In addition to their solid scoring output, Mitchell and Pierre have provided consistency getting buckets and an edge on the defensive end. Mitchell has averaged over six defensive rebounds per game this season and a steal and a block per game, while Pierre has shot 91% from the free throw line.

East has acted as the team’s best playmaker this season, both as a scorer and a passer. He has shot an incredibly efficient 50% from the field, 42% from three, and averaged almost seven assists per game during the team’s five-game winning streak. While this team is full of bucket-getters, East seems like the guy who can feed them the ball and still score on his own.

Up next for the Minutemen is a return to Mullins to take on South Carolina next Wednesday, who are currently 4-3 on the season. Although the schedule is tougher than the start of the season, this team has shown they can hang with some of the top teams in the country, and now they get a chance to prove it.

Women’s Basketball

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

The Minutewomen Basketball team is off to an up-and-down start to the 2019-20 season, as they currently sit at 4-3. While they beat Vermont on Friday night and destroyed Brown by more than 50 points, they have lost some of their marquee matchups, such as Providence and St. John’s.

The game against Brown exhibited just how cohesive this team can be when they are on. The Minutewomen combined for 25 assists in the victory, including five from Vashnie Perry and seven from Bre Hampton-Bay. Additionally, Hailey Leidel, Paige McCormick, and Destiny Philoxy all scored more than 15 in the route, with Leidel leading the way with 20. 

Philoxy, the two-way sophomore guard, has paced the team this season with averages of 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Her presence as a ball hawk has also proved her defensive mindset, as her 13 steals leads the team, as well.

In addition to Philoxy, Leidel, McCormick, and Hampton-Bey have all averaged double-digit scoring, and Leidel is the only other to average 14 per game. Perry has been the main distributor for the offense outside of Philoxy, as exhibited by her 4.5 assist per game average.

On the boards, the Minutewomen have found some contributors in surprising places. Two of the three leading rebounders on the team are freshmen in center Maev Donnely (5.2 per game) and forward Angelique Ngalakulondi (6.0 per game), while Donnely also defends the rim with over two blocks per game. The third leader is the 5”11 guard McCormick, who is just the eight-tallest person on the team.

Up next for UMass are two home games next week against New Hampshire on Thursday and Holy Cross on Sunday. This is a team that clearly has all the pieces to compete under Head Coach Tory Verdi, and it’s up to them to keep the wins coming.

Football

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

Although Head Coach Walt Bell knew that there might be some growing pains with this team, he probably never imagined an outcome like this season. The Minutemen finished the year 1-11 with their only win coming over Akron behind an excellent performance by third string quarterback Michael Curtis.

The season ended with a sense of pride for Coach Bell and his squad, however. After BYU put six unanswered touchdowns on the Minutemen during the second quarter of their Senior Day with legendary receiver Andy Isabella in attendance, UMass managed to outscore the 6-4 Wildcats 24-7 in the second half behind solid play from Randall West, Bilal Ally, and the Minutemen defense as a whole. It seemed as if the team was playing with a purpose for Isaiah Rodgers, a senior and arguably the team’s best player, who was stretchered off the field after a late hit in the second quarter.

Ally was the star on offense last Saturday, finishing with 127 rushing yards and a 46 yard score. Not only did Ally lead the team in rushing this year with 853 yards on the ground, but he also had the most rushing touchdowns on the team (seven) and averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry.

After replacing Andrew Brito halfway through the second quarter, Randall West threw two touchdowns in relief to give an extra spark to the Minutemen offense. Despite starting just three games this season, West led the team in passing yards with 864 and threw six scores.

Although his collegiate career ended in heartbreaking fashion, the aforementioned Rodgers had a stellar season. The senior cornerback led the nation in kickoff return yards with 1,295, including an 87 yard return against Louisiana Tech earlier this year. Rodgers also recorded an interception return touchdown and a punt return touchdown, showcasing his immense versatility as a playmaker. 

The stellar play from Rodgers and Ally were some of the silver linings of an otherwise disappointing season. The good news for Coach Bell and the rest of his returning squad is that things can only get better from here.


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