UMass January Recap

Hockey

Brianna Repetto (Cover photo from The Daily Collegian)

Welcome back students! It is officially the start of spring semester and your UMass Minutemen are still battling hard and holding on to the #1 spot in the Hockey East. The team also climbed to #7 in the rankings.

Let’s start by highlighting UMass’s not one, but two Hobey Baker Nominees, John Leonard and captain Mitchell Chaffee. Last year, I am sure you heard of Cale Makar, who was the first to win the award under Greg Carvel’s coaching. I say we should have back-to-back winners, and to vote for either of them, you can go to www.hobeybaker.com. Click on their picture and hit submit; it’s that simple. Don’t forget to tell everyone you know, your parents, siblings, roommates, random strangers, doesn’t matter; anyone and everyone is eligible to vote! 

Now for the games. The Minutemen defeated Maine back-to-back in the beginning of December and then shut out Brown 4-0 with two goals by Oliver Chau, a goal by John Leonard, and another by Reed Lebester. The Minutemen went on to beat Rensselaer 5-3 in late December, with Matt Murray saving 20 shots throughout the night, increasing his record to 8-1-0 in his games played. The Minutemen had some trouble in Denver, but came back to Massachusetts determined to win. Unfortunately for Boston College, that meant they were going to fall victim in a 3-1 loss. UMass then faced Boston College a second night and fell to BC 6-3 after a hard fought game. Not letting this loss discourage them, the Minutemen went back on the road a few days later to Vermont, where they absolutely destroyed their opponent in back-to-back games. The first game was a 4-0 shutout, including Mitchell Chaffee’s first career hat trick, scoring in every period. The following night, the Minutemen won again by a score of 3-1 with goals by John Leonard, Jake McLaughin, and Matthew Kessel. Safe to assume Vermont fans didn’t show up to the second game after they lost so bad the first time. 

Despite a huge turnout Friday night against New Hampshire, the Minutemen struggled to get on the board and fell 1-0. Nevertheless, I don’t think the New Hampshire goalie, Mike Robinson, will ever be the same after the chants that were thrown his way. From “Robinson breaks into preschools and tells little kids that Santa isn’t real” to “Robinson doesn’t respect women,” he was obliterated by the UMass faithful despite keeping the Minutemen off the board. The Minutemen did somewhat avenge their loss on Saturday and tied New Hampshire 1-1. Be at Mullins this Friday night when UMass takes on #5 Boston College for the third highly anticipated game at 7 pm! Welcome back and GO UMASS! 

Women’s Basketball

By: Freeman Alfano

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

The UMass Women’s basketball team has been on fire as of late, as highlighted by an 11-game winning streak from the end of November through mid-January. During this streak, the team let up just over 55 points per game, which would be good for 24th in the country if stretched over the course of the season. 

The biggest key to the team’s recent success has been Penn State transfer Sam Breen. The Minutewomen’s newest frontcourt addition has averaged over 16 points per game on 45 percent shooting from beyond the arc while starting just once (yesterday’s game against Richmond). UMass is 5-1 when Breen scores in double-digits, with the team’s only loss in those games coming by just three points.

The team’s best and most consistent scorer this season has been Hailey Leidel. The Minutewomen wing is leading the team in scoring at 16.6 points per game, and the team is 13-1 when she scores over 15 points. She has scored in single digits just three times this season, and her season-low in scoring was just seven points in the team’s opener against Merrimack. 

Senior guard and captain Vashnie Perry has been a huge reason for the team’s solid play on both ends of the floor. She leads the team in assists and is tied for the team lead in steals with 35 on the season. When Perry has five or more assists in a game, the Minutewomen have a record of 5-1.  

One of the biggest factors to the team’s overall play has been their affinity for forcing turnovers. Leidel, Perry, Destine Philoxy, and Bre Hampton-Bey have each had over 29 steals this season, combining for an average of 1.68 steals per game each. 

Despite their recent success, however, the Minutewomen are just fourth in the A-10 Conference because of VCU and Dayton’s undefeated conference play. The team recently lost to VCU, but has yet to play Dayton and Davidson, both of whom are above UMass in the conference standings.

Up next for the Minutewomen is a road matchup against conference foe Davidson on Sunday, and a win could be pivotal for the UMass’s standing in the A10. That game will be followed by a trip to George Mason next Wednesday until UMass returns home on Saturday to take on Fordham. 

Men’s Basketball

By: Freeman Alfano

J. Anthony Roberts, The Republican

The months of December and January were not kind to the Massachusetts Men’s Basketball team. In the last two months, the Minutemen are 4-9 with five of those losses coming by double-digits. However, they let two games slip away, as they were 0-2 in overtime games in December and January. They also just beat Saint Joseph’s yesterday by scoring a season-high 91 points, including a season-high of 24 from sophomore transfer Dibaji Walker.

One of the biggest blows for the team was losing freshman bench standout TJ Weeks, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season on December 12 after undergoing abdominal surgery. Despite not starting a game for the Minutemen, Weeks was averaging just below 15 points per game at the time of his injury while hitting over 48% of his threes.

Another dent on the team’s depth was forward Sy Chatman’s decision to enter the transfer portal in mid-December. Despite missing the first few games of the season due to personal reasons, Chatman was a projected starting forward for the Minutemen who could provide versatility at the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. We wish him the best wherever he ends up playing next season and beyond. 

Despite the team’s losses both on and off the court, there were some positives to take away from this rough patch. The biggest of those has been the ever-improving play of freshman center Tre Mitchell, who is currently fifth in Atlantic 10 Conference in scoring at 15.8 points per game. Over his last 10 games, Mitchell has averaged 19.3 points, which would be tied for third in the A-10 conference if done over the course of the season. This recent stretch by Mitchell was highlighted by a stellar performance against Saint Bonaventure when he scored a career-high 28 points on 58% shooting.

After Weeks went down, junior guard Carl Pierre has picked up the team’s scoring output as a solid second option. Pierre has four 20-point games over his last 10 contests and just one in single digits while shooting 42% from beyond the arc. In the overtime loss against Yale, the top Minuteman guard recorded a season-high 26 points while making eight threes in the process.

Over his last seven games, Samba Diallo has three double-doubles (with points and rebounds) despite never recording a double-double before in his collegiate career. The Minutemen are 2-1 in Diallo’s double-double performances and the only loss was by three points to Saint Louis in overtime.

Freshman guard Preston Santos replaced Sean East in the starting lineup on Saturday against Duquesne, and he did not disappoint. Santos more than doubled his previous career-high and finished the contest with 15 points en route to a much-needed UMass victory. The freshman made 75% of his shots in the game and recorded a career-high 12 rebounds, as well. 

Up next is a road matchup against A-10 opponent Davidson on Saturday followed by a trip to Rhode Island next Tuesday. UMass then returns to Mullins to take on George Mason next Saturday and build off their momentum at home.

UMass Sports Recap – End of October 

By: Freeman Alfano

Men’s Basketball

Katherine Mayo, The Daily Collegian

While the Massachusetts’ Men’s basketball season has not officially begun, the squad has already recorded a win this season. On Tuesday, the Minutemen defeated Western New England by a score of 83-47 as freshman guard TJ Weeks led the team with 18 points, including four makes from beyond the arc. While UMass started out slow in this one, the team consistently ramped up the pace throughout the game and let up just 18 points in the second half as they had more than double WNE’s points. 

Sy Chatman and top recruit Tre Mitchell added 13 points apiece in the blowout, with Chatman grabbing nine boards in the contest as well. Mitchell flashed his offensive versatility in this one, as he scored in multiple areas within the offense, including two threes. 

The only surprising disappointment during the team’s unofficial opener was the scoring impact on the game by Carl Pierre (or lack thereof). While the team’s leading scorer from last year had a team-high four steals, he had just five points on three shots during his 21 minutes of action. For the Minutemen offense to operate at its full potential, Pierre has to be an integral part of the attack night in and night out. 

Coach Matt McCall’s squad begins their season next Tuesday against UMass Lowell. Last season, the Minutemen defeated Lowell by a score of 83-75 as Pierre had a team-high 21 points. The game will be at 7:30 in the Mullins as part of the back-to-back night after Women’s Basketball.

Hockey

Umass.edu

Over the past few weeks, the UMass Minutemen have increased in the rankings by their hard game play and amazing three wins at home. However, they had one 3-1 loss away at Northeastern on Oct. 15. The Huskies had managed to get two goals during the first period. Then in the second, the Minutemen got on the board by a goal by Matthew Kessel from Jeremy Davidson to make the game 2-1. However, Northeastern’s Zach Solow ended the game 3-1 with an empty netter and unfortunately Northeastern managed to come out on top. 

The week after, the Minutemen gained two big wins over Union College, first a 6-1 victory followed by a huge shutout game, 5-0, the next night. In the first game against Union, it was a slow start with no goals in the first. However, the game picked up with a goal by Bobby Trivigno which he quickly added with an exciting power play goal to get the Minutemen up 2-0. The game intensified when Union got their only goal of the game and brought the score to 2-1. However, the Mullins Center fired up again when Reed Lebester closed the period by redirecting a shot from Zac Jones to get back UMass’s two goal lead. When going into the third, UMass got two back-to-back goals, one from John Leonard and another by Zac Jones bringing UMass way ahead of Union College, 5-1. To finish out the game, a great effort by Reed Lebester gave him his second goal of the night to give the Minutemen their 6-1 win. 

UMass faced Union College again the next night with strong hopes for a big victory. Finishing the game 5-0, they started off the first period with an electrifying goal by Anthony Del Gaizo, which was his first of the season. Also in the first, Cal Kiefiuk brought the score to 2-0 with a tip in from Zac Jones. About half-way through the second period, the Minutemen were given a power-play, during which Mitchell Chaffee scored his first of two goals on the night with a big drive to the net. Bobby Trivigno followed up his scoring from the night before with another goal to bring UMass up 4-0. By the end of the game, UMass greatly overpowered Union with an impressive 38-15 shots on goal margin. The 5-0 win also gave Filip Lindberg his fifth career shutout. 

The Minutemen then faced AIC the following week and increased their record to 3-1 with a huge 4-1 win at home. The Minutemen were quick to start the game with a goal by Anthony Del Gaizo in the first, but AIC managed to put themselves on the board with 50 seconds left in the period. The second period stretched on, as neither team could get a second goal in and UMass got the disadvantage of a five minute major, which became a 5-on-3 for a full two minutes. They played the penalty strong despite this and held off AIC from scoring. Even though UMass faced many penalty kills that caused them to have to undergo 17 minutes of penalty kill, they came out on top with two big goals from John Leonard, one being an empty netter, and a goal from Cal Kiefiuk, which ended the game 4-1. In net was Matt Murray, who made 15 saves for the night. UMass again dominated in shots 29-16 over AIC. 

Currently, the Minutemen have moved up in the rankings to the #3 spot with three wins and one loss. This weekend they take on #10 Northeastern away for the second time on Nov. 1 and then again the next night at home. Be there for puck drop at 8 pm on Nov. 2 to cheer them on! Go UMass!

By: Bri Repetto

Women’s Basketball

Eric Schelkun

Women’s Basketball also had a scrimmage earlier this week, as they defeated UMass Dartmouth by a score of 89-39. Sophomore guard Destiny Philoxy had a team-high 23 points to go with seven assists, and her and senior guard Vashnie Perry combined for an absurd 15 steals. The Minutewomen finished with a total of 27 steals (20 more than Dartmouth) as seven players recorded at least two swipes in the contest.

Perry also added 20 points of her own to go with four rebounds and six assists for a well-rounded game to prepare herself for her final season. Sydney Taylor and Paige McCormack also had double figures in this one, with McCormack finishing the contest with 11 rebounds, as well.

The Minutewomen will play the first of two basketball games at Mullins next Tuesday against Merrimack. Tip-off for the season opener is scheduled for 4:30 PM.

Field Hockey

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

After a small rough patch during the middle of the season, the Minutewomen Field Hockey team is back to firing on all cylinders. Now 9-8, the team has won five of its last six games as they try to make a late-season push and potentially make the A-10 Tournament next weekend.

The key to the Minutewomen’s late-season run has been their airtight defense. UMass has not given up more than two goals in a game in over a month and gave up two goals just twice during the month of October. 

One of the main contributors to this stretch has been captain Lucy Cooper. During the team’s three-game road winning streak, Cooper had a goal and three assists. She now has a team-high six goals and 17 points, the latter of which is five more than the next closest player. 

For the final home game of the season, the Minutewomen will face VCU on Friday afternoon for their Senior Night game. Following that is possibly the hardest matchup of the season in a road game against #3 UConn on Sunday, who has lost just once at home this year. Make sure to come out and support the Minutewomen at Gladchuk at 3 PM in what could be their last home game of the season.

Women’s Soccer

Thom Kendall, UMass Athletics

Like field hockey, the Minutewomen Soccer team had a stellar finish to their regular season. The team went 4-1-1 over their last six games and finished with an overall record of 9-5-3. 

Although the team lost their regular season finale against VCU, they exhibited their dominance in their last home game against LaSalle. In a 4-2 victory, freshman Serena Ahmed finished with a goal and an assist, including a beauty in the 64th minute under the crossbar, while junior Jenny Hipp added a pair of assists. 

One of the biggest factors for the Minutewomen’s success this season has been graduate goalkeeper Peyton Ryan. The nifty netminder has started all 17 games for UMass this season, posting an 8-4-3 record and just a 1.63 goals against average. 

Up ahead for the Minutemen Soccer team is their biggest test yet: a matchup with Fordham to start off the A-10 Soccer Championship on Sunday at Rudd. While Fordham finished the regular season five games below .500, the tournament certainly isn’t the time to start overlooking opponents. 

The winner of Sunday’s game will face either George Washington or Saint Joseph’s in the semifinals. Kickoff at Rudd is scheduled for 1 PM.

Football

Jon Krispin

While UMass displayed some of their promise in the Walt Bell Era a few weeks ago against Akron, the success from that game has not continued, especially on the defensive end. Since that energetic win, the Minutemen have let up 169 points over three games, including 69 to Louisiana Tech two weeks ago. The team’s porous run defense was the biggest contributor to the loss in that one, as 385 of Louisiana’s 689 total yards came on the ground – more than three times the number of yards rushing UMass had. 

However, the offense played one of its best games of the season against UConn, as their 35 points was the second-most they’ve scored this year. Bilal Ally, who now has over 1,000 career rushing yards at UMass, led the offensive charge with 159 yards on the ground a two touchdowns. Also contributing to the scoring output was receiver Jermaine Johnson, who had four catches for 92 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown reception. 

Another player who has continued to star in multiple phases of the game for the Minutemen is cornerback Isaiah Rodgers. Against Louisiana Tech, Rodgers had 187 total yards on kickoff returns, including a career-long 87 yard return. Rodgers has made a name for himself at this school with dynamic plays, and he’s been creating that at a consistent pace this season.

Up next for the Minutemen is a matchup with Liberty this Saturday at noon, who come in to this one with a 5-3 record. Last season, UMass won a high-scoring thriller against the Flames, as Cooper Garcia kicked the game-winning field goal in triple overtime to go out on top 62-59. We’ll be hoping for a game like that one tomorrow at McGuirk as Coach Bell looks to pick up his second win on the year.

Review of the first half of September for Umass Athletics!