Updated: Thursday, 30 Apr 2009, 9:17 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 30 Apr 2009, 9:17 PM EDT
AMHERST, Mass. - Heading into its regular-season finale, the #15 UMass lacrosse team holds its fate in its own hands. The Minutemen need a win at Rutgers on Saturday to capture the ECAC Championship, the league's automatic qualifier and a berth to the NCAA Tournament. UMass (8-5 overall) comes into the game at Yurcak Field with a 5-1 ECAC record, one half-game behind 6-1 Loyola. With a win, UMass and Loyola would end tied for first, but UMass would gain the AQ by virtue of it 8-6 win at Loyola on March 21.
UMass is seeking its fourth ECAC Championship in its final season in the league, before moving to the CAA in 2010. The Minutemen have also captured the league crown in 2001, 2002 and 2005. In 2002 UMass also claimed the league's automatic qualifier. The Minutemen lost the tiebreaker to Georgetown in 2001 and in 2005, the league did not have an AQ.
With a win, UMass would clinch the automatic qualifier for the ECAC and its 18th NCAA Tournament berth. UMass last made the NCAA's in 2006, when the Minutemen advanced to the title game that year. UMass has made the NCAA's four times in the 2000s (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2006).
UMass comes off a tough 10-3 loss to new No. 1 Syracuse last Saturday McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. The game was played before a school-record lacrosse crowd of 13,722. It broke the UMass record of 12,143 set in 1989, also against Syracuse. Saturday's crowd was the 25th-largest regular-season lacrosse crowd all-time in the NCAA and 19th-largest at an on-campus facility. In 2009, UMass' mark was the seventh-highest as Ohio State set a new regular-season record with 30,192, also on Saturday.
The Series With Rutgers:
UMass holds a 17-10 lead in the all-time series with UMass. In games played in New Brunswick, the Minutemen lead 7-6, while UMass has won 10 of the 14 games in Amherst.
Rutgers has won the last two games, each by a goal: 9-8 in 2007 at Rutgers and 7-6 at UMass in 2008. Prior to the recent two-game win streak, UMass won 14 of 15 games from 1987 to 2006.
This year will be the last meeting for a while as UMass moves to the CAA and Rutgers goes to the new Big East conference in 2010. They have played for the last nine years as members of the ECAC, starting in 2000. The teams played every year for the 18 straight years, from 1977-1994, before a five-year hiatus, re-starting in 2000.
UMass has won 14 of the last 17 games in the series including 11 in a row from 1987-2002.
The Recent Meetings
LAST YEAR (May 3, 2008):
Rutgers freshman Kory Kelly scored the last three goals of the game to rally the Scarlet Knights to a 7-6 win in the men's lacrosse season finale for both teams. Rutgers finished third in the ECAC with a 4-3 conference mark and a 6-7 overall record. The Minutemen close the year at 5-9 overall, 3-4 in the ECAC. UMass' freshman attacker Peter McNichols posted his third career hat trick in the loss. The game was the final college game for six UMass seniors: Fred Federico, Nicholas Glasser, David Von Voigt and senior captains Brian Danvers, Sean Krygier, and Paul Manesis.
LAST GAME AT RUTGERS (May 5, 2007):
No. 20 UMass made a late rally, but dropped a 9-8 decision at Rutgers in the regular-season finale for both teams on May 5, 2007. The Minutemen, who were hopeful of a possible NCAA Tournament berth, finished the regular-season at 7-7, 4-3 in the ECAC. Rutgers closed its campaign at 7-6 overall and also 4-3 in the league. Jim Connolly and Andrew Recchione each scored two goals for the Minutemen. Playing on their Senior Day, Rutgers' graduating class came up big as Matt Gaines scored three goals including the game-winner. Senior Colin Checcio scored two goals as did freshman Justin Pennington. It appeared UMass had tied the game with 18 seconds left as the New Jersey native Recchione scored but a goal that was waved off as it appeared a UMass player was in the crease. The Minutemen made a late rally. Recchione scored off a spin move with 59.9 left to bring UMass back to within 9-8. Brian Jacovina scored with 1:52 left to cut the lead to 9-7