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First half indicative of success in games

There was a lack of sun, warmth and first half dominance for the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team in yesterday’s 10-8 loss to Boston University. In the 2010 season, whenever the Minutewomen are down after the first half, they have ended up losing.

“[At] the end of the first half, we let them have a little run off the draws, and that proved to be the difference,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said.

The Minutewomen played catch-up in the first half, contrary to their last two matches. With five minutes left to play, BU went on a 4-1 run to close out the half, taking a 7-3 lead over UMass.

“The defense was a little bit behind, but everything else was pretty much even except for the score,” Venechanos said. “We had the opportunities and it’s up to us to execute them. We adjusted a little bit to the play; it was a physical game, we adjusted, and we had the opportunities on the line. We just ran out of time.”

When the Minutewomen opened its season in San Diego against No. 1 Northwestern, the Maroon and White found themselves down 14-2 after the first half. The deficit proved too much to overcome, as UMass succumbed to the Wildcats.

“I thought this game was different from our first loss because we had effort from beginning until the end,” Venechanos said. “I thought we had enough conditioning to put ourselves in good position. We just have to play with more urgency from the start so we’re not playing from behind in the second half.”

In the first game at McGuirk Stadium against Holy Cross, the Minutewomen had a 7-1 lead after the first thirty minutes of play. Similarly, in the opening period of play against Connecticut, UMass held a 7-1 lead. The Minutewomen were victorious in both contests when they led in the first half. 

UMass also scored the first two goals of the match against the Huskies. The same story can be told for the match against the Crusaders, as the Minutewomen went on a 5-0 rout to open up the first half.

Just like yesterday’s match against the Terriers, UMass let up at least two unanswered goals when it faced Northwestern. The Wildcats kicked off the season opener with a 7-0 run.

One of the things to which Venechanos has attributed her team’s success in the past is its consistent effort to gain draw controls. Often, the score emulates the draw control numbers. Despite leading BU, 7-3, in the draw control category at the end of the first half, the Minutewomen still had trouble finding the back of the net.

“We need a lot more people producing; we need some different girls stepping up,” Venechanos said.

UMass led 6-5 in draw controls in its victory against Holy Cross (13-1 in the second half). In its win against Connecticut, the Minutewomen led by the same margin.

In the opening half of the loss against Northwestern, the Minutewomen were down 15-6 for draw controls.

Midfielder Haley Smith was absent from the first half against the Terriers. In the two wins for the Minutewomen this season, Smith has scored in the opening period of play. Though just like the loss against the Wildcats, Smith didn’t produce.

“Other teams know we have a lot of threats,” Venechanos said. “Haley is a huge part of our team; when she scores, or the midfielder scores, we’re more dynamic. Merritt, Dayna, Haley, are all bonuses for us. If they score, it helps our attack out. Our midfielders do a lot of our dirty work, [and] they’re part of our transition. Anytime they score, it’s a bonus.”

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

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