The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team continued its winning ways this past Saturday with an 18-8 victory over rival Connecticut.
“I thought it was a great game against a great UConn [team],” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said. “I’m proud of the way we were executing our game. They came in with their game plan, and they have a lot of young players.”
The Minutewomen (2-1) entered the home of the Huskies (0-1) with a plan to strike hard and execute their attack. Six minutes into the contest, freshman Lauren Terracciano did just that when she notched her first of five goals off an unassisted effort.
Five minutes later, sophomore Danielle Pelletier also produced an unassisted score to give UMass some insurance over a team it had not competed against since 2004.
“I just felt our attack was good at reading situations,” Venechanos said. “We didn’t know what UConn was going to do, so we prepared for anything.”
While the Huskies clawed their way back into the contest with a goal by junior Jillian Cerar, her first of three, the Minutewomen responded back with another two goals halfway through the first period.
Terracciano and sophomore Nina Sarcona proved to be a dynamic pair during this stage of the game. Terracciano, after scoring her second goal to give UMass the 3-2 lead, handed off the ball to Sarcona, who scored a goal of her own.
Within the final 10 minutes of the half, it was a back-and-forth dance between the two rivalry schools.
An unassisted goal by Cerar was answered nearly four minutes later by senior Merritt Cosgrove, who scored off a free-position shot. In response to Cosgrove’s goal, Cerar earned her final goal of the contest less than two minutes later off her own free-position shot.
While scores by Cerar kept the Minutewomen at bay during the later stages of the first half, UMass did not stop its search for momentum going into the half.
With two minutes left in the opening half, Terracciano provided another score for the Minutewomen, assisted by sophomore Dayna Defliese. To add some insurance, sophomore Haley Smith provided a goal to give UMass a 7-3 lead going into the half.
In the first period of play, it was a battle of offensive production between Terracciano and Cerar, with both scoring a hat trick in the first half. In the second period of play, it was a different story, as Cerar’s goal-scoring ways were replaced by sophomore M.E. Lapham, who scored four goals in the second half alone.
The majority of the second 30-minute period can be told in the first 15 seconds, as right off from the break, sophomore Riley Perry produced UMass’ eighth goal of the game after a draw control won by Terracciano.
About three minutes later, sophomore Jesse O’Donnell, who had five goals in the 15-6 win over Holy Cross, scored her first of three goals in the game. O’Donnell’s goal was the fourth unanswered score by the Minutewomen.
Once again, there was a back-to-back swing between the two sides in a game that Venechanos called “close until the end.”
UConn answered the dominant UMass play with two goals of its own, one by Lapham and another by redshirt junior Lauren Sparks. For the Minutewomen’s side, Pelletier answered right back with a score, as did junior Jackie Lyons.
“I thought we did a good job of recognizing their defense, and we reacted really well,” Venechanos said.
Lapham produced two more goals before and after Terracciano’s third goal. Lapham would notch her final score of the contest after two goals by UMass, off an unassisted effort.
From then on, the game showed a majority of Minutewomen dominance with little resistance from the Huskies. Leading by six goals in the final six minutes of play, UMass’ offense wanted to provide some insurance to firmly put away its opponent.
The Minutewomen did just that, scoring the final four goals of the match. Of the final two goals, Terracciano had two scores both without assistance. Her final goal of the game with two minutes left was enough to seal the 18-8 victory.
“We moved the ball around a lot; it was a good win against a good UConn [team],” Venechanos said.
This was Venechanos’ first game against her former assistant coach, Angela McMahon. While Venechanos was victorious in the classic student-versus-master battle, the UMass coach recognized McMahon’s efforts.
“I think she does a great job [coaching her team],” Venechanos said.
Despite a crushing victory over the Huskies and a two-game winning streak, Venechanos is not letting her team get too far ahead of themselves.
“Bringing the ball on attack will make us more dangerous as a team,” Venechanos said. “I think we’re going to have to be a little sharper. We’ve got to work on bringing the ball up the field a little more safely; we go extremely hard. Playing against a team like BU on Wednesday, we have to be sharp.”
UMass will resume play this Wednesday when it takes on Boston University at McGuirk Stadium.
Herb Scribner can be reached at email@example.com.