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May 14, 2016

Minutewomen look to work on teamwork against Holy Cross

After a crushing defeat by Northwestern, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team looks to make early adjustments in today’s contest against Holy Cross.

The Minutewomen (0-1) are looking to open their home schedule with a victory, banking on three aspects of the game.

Team work

UMass isn’t looking to change its strategy, but rather use a simple tactic in order to defeat the Crusaders in today’s contest: team work.

“I thought just overall teamwork, I think we weren’t there for each other [against Northwestern] on our slides, defensively, and groundballs we were by ourselves,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said.

“UMass lacrosse is built on doing all the dirty work and doing it all together,” Venechanos said. “And I thought we needed more of that, and we’ve been working hard this past week with our drills.”

Just like last week, Venechanos is unsure of her starting lineup. While she stated she did want to keep similar sets of plays going, the actual lineup is still in question.

“We’re going to try and move some people around,” Venechanos said. “We’re going to be moving a lot more people around, but I think getting more opportunities on goal will be a high priority for us.”

The Minutewomen are hoping to fix the mistakes they made against the Wildcats in their 18-6 loss in San Diego by uniting more as a team.

“As a group, [we want to be] limiting [Holy Cross’] high-quality opportunities, which I felt Northwestern had a lot of,” Venechanos said. “[We hope to be] playing more as a team on the attack and also on defense.”

Draw controls

In the season opener against Northwestern, the Minutewomen were overpowered, 21-5, in draw controls, with the Maroon and White nabbing just a pair in the second half.

“I think draw controls killed us last week,” Venechanos said. “I think the final score was very consistent to the draw controls. We talked about how we need the ball and we need to gain that to get possession and gain opportunities.”

Last year, one of the keys to the success of the Minutewomen came from their earned draw controls. Over the course of the season, UMass outclassed its opponents in draw controls by a 266-197 margin.

“A lot of draw controls are heart and hustle, and we’ve been working hard,” Venechanos said. “The girls have been coming out earlier at practice, and continue to try to get the ball back in our hands after we score.”

Leading the team last season in draw controls were attackers Meghan Reddy (78) and Holly Drown (44). Below the now graduated players was current senior Jackie Lyons, who had 31 draw controls, while midfielder Merritt Cosgrove also earned a high amount with 27.

“We’re not asking someone to be Superwoman,” Venechanos said. “We’re not asking one person to replace each of these people, but we’re asking to do it as a team. I think as a team we could replace Meg Reddy, as a team we could replace Holly’s finishing ability.”

With the losses of Reddy and Drown, along with a combined 122 draw controls, the Minutewomen offense is looking to recapture their draw control dominance.

Home-field advantage

Today’s game against the Crusaders is the first contest to take place in McGurik stadium in the 2010 season.

“[We’re looking to] refocus, regroup, and we’re excited we have sixteen more games,” Venechanos said. “We’re glad that we didn’t end with Northwestern, we started with Northwestern, and we have 16 more games.”

Including today’s game, UMass will play five of its next six games at home before hitting the road for six games.

Last season, the Minutewomen went 5-2 on their home field. Absent from UMass’ home schedule last season was Holy Cross, who defeated the Minutewomen, 11-7, in Worcester.

Herb Scribner can be reached at hscribne@student.umass.edu.

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