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May 9, 2016

Minutewomen players return home this weekend against Stony Brook

Going on the road tends to be a difficult task, no matter the sport or the team.

For the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team though, it may present little trouble if UMass continues to focus on team advantages and play its style of game.

The Minutewomen (3-4) capped off their four-game home stretch with a 9-5 victory over Yale. In the game, UMass worked out the kinks and did things different than it had in its three straight losses at home. In the upcoming road trip, the Minutewomen will look to keep the momentum going with things that helped them attain their last victory.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said. “We need to take it one game at a time.”

Away-field advantage

The Minutewomen will have a unique advantage heading into Long Island this weekend, an advantage that many other traveling teams might not have.

For Jackie Lyons, Dayna Defliese, Riley Perry, Nina Sarcona and Lauren Terracciano, it will be a homecoming this Saturday against Stony Brook, as all are returning home for the match against the Seawolves (1-4).

“We’ve got a lot of kids from Long Island, so I think they’re going to be excited to play against Stony Brook,” Venechanos said. “We’re expecting another top game.”

The last time that one of the Minutewomen players returned home was in the season opener when Merritt Cosgrove went back to San Diego to face Northwestern. Despite being home, Cosgrove’s efforts were not enough to earn the Maroon and White a victory.

Though Lyons and Connolly are the only players from Long Island to be returning, the roster includes another 14 players from the New York/New Jersey area.

Offensive possession

One of the keys to the game that the Minutewomen will be looking to continue after their match against the Bulldogs (1-3) is the offensive possession. Throughout the match against Yale, UMass was perfect on its clears, keeping the ball away from its opponent.

In the final nine minutes of the contest, the Minutewomen went on a four-goal run, keeping the ball on their side of the pitch.

UMass was also quite dominant on the draw control, beating Yale 11-to-5 in the category. Even after several draws for the Bulldogs, the Minutewomen stole the ball away to keep the possession.

In its first five games of the season, Stony Brook averaged just over seven goals a game, while UMass has averaged eight. The Minutewomen have not scored less than six goals since their first two contests against Northwestern and Holy Cross.

Gameplan

The last match against Yale featured a different UMass squad that followed the game-plan, which the Minutewomen will look to do again when they face Stony Brook.

“This is the first time we’ve followed the game-plan from top to bottom,” Venechanos said after the game. “Usually in the past, it’s one thing or the other. The attack kind of sealed it away with their finishes and we took the shots we wanted to take.”

One of the pieces to the game-plan came from attacker Jesse O’Donnell, who notched four goals (18 season total) in the match. Despite being on the road and being a target for her upcoming opponents, O’Donnell wants to do more of the same.

“I’m going to stick to the same game-plan and just keep working hard,” O’Donnell said.

Over the course of the season, Venechanos has praised the importance of the draw controls in her strategy. Throughout the opening games of their respective seasons, the Minutewomen have the advantage over the Seawolves in the category (85-61).

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

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