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Teamwork, draw controls help UMass in first win

After getting outhustled, outworked and generally outplayed by Northwestern in its first game of the 2010 campaign, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team responded in resounding fashion on Wednesday.

UMass coach Alexis Venechanos felt her team needed to improve in two key areas after the loss to the Wildcats: teamwork and draw controls. The Minutewomen did just that to the tune of out-drawing Holy Cross and having four multi-goal scorers in their 15-6 win over the Crusaders (0-1).

Leading the way for UMass (1-1) was sophomore Jesse O’Donnell, who poured in five total goals along with two draw controls. The game marked a career-high for O’Donnell in goals, after recording a lone score as a freshman in 2009.

“It’s really great, but we had a really good team effort. It was the whole team that won the game,” O’Donnell said after Wednesday’s contest.

Coming off the bench for the first time in 20 games, junior Jackie Lyons reminded everyone why she was the leading scorer for the Minutewomen last season. Lyons scored her second, third and fourth goals of the year for her 10th hat trick and 16th multi-goal game of her career.

Along with O’Donnell and Lyons, freshman Lauren Terracciano and junior Haley Smith provided firepower with two scores each to round out the UMass scoring.

“We had a lot of different people step up,” Venechanos said. “I feel Jesse O’Donnell stepped up, Lauren Terracciano played really well with a couple goals at the end, and Jackie Lyons played like [herself]. If we have other people stepping up, we’re going to be a really balanced team. When you have one or two scorers, it’s really easy to scout against at the end of the season.”

The balanced scoring for the Minutewomen was initiated through the strong play on draw controls. After allowing 21 draw controls while obtaining five against Northwestern, it was the complete opposite for UMass on Wednesday.

For the game, the Minutewomen had 18 total draw controls, compared to five for Holy Cross. In the second half, especially, UMass dominated the Crusaders, 13-1.

“I thought we threw a lot of people in there and they all did a great job,” Venechanos said. “I feel the players around the circle did a great job too, the girls directed it and we were able to finish the play.”

Much of the success for the Minutewomen was driven by freshmen who played well in their first game at McGuirk Stadium.

UMass had two freshmen in the starting lineup, Jordan Renna and Terracciano. Coming in as substitutes, Cori Murray, Kelsey Palmer and Christina Fey also played significant roles in the victory.

Fey entered for goalkeeper Katie Florence, who left the contest with a minor injury, and played just over nine minutes, holding Holy Cross to one score.

“We have a very young team, but the freshmen are going to keep building confidence throughout the season,” O’Donnell said.

Despite being so young, Venechanos is confident her freshmen will get comfortable in their roles sooner rather than later.

“We’re trying to be a really deep team, and in order to do that we have to let the younger players play,” Venechanos said. “Every day we’re just trying to learn more about each other and get better.”

Jay Asser can be reached at jasser@student.umass.edu.

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