No. 1 ranked and undefeated Massachusetts begins its quest for a national title in men’s lacrosse when it hosts No. 9 Colgate in an NCAA Tournament first-round game Saturday afternoon at Garber Field.
The game features a pair of finalists for the Tewaaraton Award - given annually to the nation’s top lacrosse player - in Will Manny of UMass and Peter Baum of Colgate. Manny has 43 goals and 32 assists, while Baum has registered 64 goals and 29 assists.
With two high-scoring attackmen, the game pits two of the nation’s top offensive units - Colgate is ranked second and UMass third. The Minutemen (15-0) hold the edge defensively, allowing just 6.8 goals per game, while the Raiders (13-3) give up 9.75.
Though top ranked, the Minutemen suffered a bit of a snub when they were selected as a sixth seed in the tournament. But that hasn’t dampened expectations in Amherst.
“Of course there’s expectations, but I think these guys have expectations of themselves more than anything,’’ UMass coach Greg Cannella said. “I don’t think they’re concerned with the outside expectations. They want to make sure that they can look at the guy next to them and know that he’s going to be ready to play.’’
The Minutemen are making their 19th trip to the tournament and first time since 2009, when they snapped a two-year absence following their run to the NCAA Finals in 2006.
The UMass-Colgate winner will face the victor of Saturday’s Syracuse-Duke game in the quarterfinals.
The Division 1 semifinals will by May 26 at Gillette Stadium, with the title match May 28.
The UMass women also reached the NCAA Tournament and will take on No. 3 seed Maryland Saturday in College Park, Md.