Elliot Olshansky, NCAA.com
As bad as the winter weather has been in the northeast in recent weeks, Army goaltender Tom Palesky may have faced one of the most powerful storms in the region on Saturday afternoon at Garber Field in Amherst.
No. 16 Massachusetts outshot the Black Knights, 50-22, and forced Army into 20 turnovers in an 8-5 victory in the 2011 season opener for both teams, as Palesky’s 18 saves prevented a blowout for the Minutemen.
“Army’s an excellent program,” Minutemen head coach Greg Cannella said, “Quarterfinalists last year, and the guys were pretty amped up for the game. They need to be amped up for the next 12 as well.
“Obviously, as an opener, we couldn’t be happier with the effort that the guys gave, the preparation they put into it, the intensity they brought for 60 minutes. Hopefully, we can be very consistent with that.”
UMass enjoyed balanced scoring at the offensive end, as seven different players scored, led by a two-goal game from Colin Fleming. The total team effort was most noticeable on defense, however, as Army was held without a goal for more than 38 minutes, a span that stretched from the second quarter to the fourth, and UMass was able to cause 20 Black Knight turnovers.
“Those guys are tough,” Canella said. “Jake Smith and Tommy [Celentani] did a good job, but you give credit to the entire D.”
With a strong season debut in the books, the Minutemen look ahead to their first road game of the season this weekend, as they’ll travel to Hartford for a Saturday afternoon tilt against the Hawks.
Need to Know
• Reigning Division II champ C.W. Post is heading west to start the 2011 season. The preseason No. 1 Pioneers begin the 2011 campaign this week in Phoenix, with games at Grand Canyon University against three members of the fledgling Western Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. The Pioneers will face Notre Dame de Namur on Thursday and first-year varsity program Mesa State this coming Tuesday, sandwiched around a date with the host Antelopes on Saturday. The trip will be key for Post to get going, as a visit from Chestnut Hill College for the home opener opens the Pioneers’ East Coast Conference schedule on Saturday, February 26.
• In Division III, preseason No. 9 RIT will open its season with a stern test, heading down to Florida to face second-year Division I program Jacksonville. The Dolphins will have already started their season with a game against Georgetown in the Moe’s Southwest Grill Sunshine Classic at EverBank Field and a trip to Mercer, and will be a valuable measuring stick for the Tigers – NCAA quarterfinalists a year ago – who will also face the club team at South Florida before returning to Rochester for their official season opener against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Mar. 5.
• Two days after being offensively stymied in a near upset against Detroit Mercy, Ohio State left no doubts on Saturday, turning in the weekend’s most explosive offensive effort in a 20-2 win against visiting Mercer. The Buckeyes had needed a fourth-quarter goal from senior Tyler Dolphin to secure a 4-3 win against Detroit in the season opener – leaving head coach Nick Myers saying, “Offensively, we have a lot of work to do” – but Dolphin’s goal on Saturday was almost an afterthought in a game where sophomore Jeff Tundo scored six goals and handed out two assists to pace a blistering attack from the Buckeyes. Ohio State will need similar intensity on Saturday, when No. 3 North Carolina comes to town for a noon matchup at Jesse Owens Stadium.
• Duke senior attacker Zach Howell turned in the weekend’s most outstanding individual offensive performance, scoring seven goals and two assists in the No. 5 Blue Devils’ 20-6 win against Siena. Howell not only outscored the entire Siena team by himself, but his seven goals topped the team game totals by six other teams.
• Ranked second in the preseason USILA Division II poll, LeMoyne tested its mettle against two of the top 10 teams in Division I with scrimmages against No. 2 Syracuse and No. 9 Hofstra. The Dolphins got two goals from senior Jack Harmatuk in an 8-5 loss to the Pride, then saw sophomore goaltender Jeff White make 11 saves in two and a half quarters of work in a 10-5 loss to the Orange.
• 2010 Division III runner-up Salisbury got its 2011 campaign off to a fast start on Sunday with a 25-2 win against Greensboro. While 14 different Salisbury players scored in the contest, Sam Bradman paced the No. 2 Sea Gulls with four goals (including three in the first quarter) and three assists, and all four of Salisbury’s goaltenders combined to save eight of Greensboro’s 10 shots on goal.
• At home for the first five games of the season, Delaware has come out of the gates firing, scoring 32 goals in two games to start the season 2-0. Ten different Blue Hens scored in UD’s season opener on February 5, a 13-5 win against Detroit Mercy, while Saturday’s game saw John Austin, Eric Smith and Sean Finnegan all record hat tricks for the Blue Hens in a 19-4 win versus Presbyterian.
• No. 4 Limestone isn’t wasting time getting right into the thick of things in the 2011 season. The Saints’ season opener on Wednesday afternoon will also serve as their Conference Carolinas opener, as they will travel to Banner Elk, N.C., to face Lees-McRae.
• As an Annapolis native, Navy freshman attackman Sam Jones has likely seen many an impressive performance at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, and in his first game as a Midshipman, he turned in one of his own. Jones scored five goals, the highest single-game output for a Navy player since 2006, to lead the Mids to a 14-8 win against VMI, as Navy won its season opener for the 10th consecutive year.