December 19, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

BLOG: UMass football recruiting roundup: UMass signs DT, offers two kickers -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass President Robert Caret resigns to become chancellor of the University of Maryland system -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brandon Montour: ‘It felt great to be out there’ -

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UMass falls to Northeastern in Brandon Montour’s debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cady Lalanne continues to evolve as a potential outside shooting threat -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

UMass hockey returns to action against Northeastern, Montour to make season debut -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Demetrius Dyson remains hopeful despite rocky start to season -

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Former UMass soccer star Matt Keys aims to continue his career professionally -

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pierre-Louis, Dillard shine in UMass victory over Holy Cross -

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Passing, spacing improved in UMass victory -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Prolific first half propels UMass past Canisius, 75-58 -

Saturday, December 13, 2014

UMass Faculty Senate hears ad hoc committee’s report on FBS football, shoots down contentious motion -

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Minutemen hope improved spacing will aid struggling half court offense -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Divest UMass urges Board of Trustees to split with fossil fuel industry -

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cady Lalanne accustomed to dealing with increased attention -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Front to Back: Week of Dec. 1, 2014 -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Chiarelli: UMass basketball running out of time to find its identity -

Monday, December 8, 2014

Minutewomen take care of business against American -

Monday, December 8, 2014

UMass women’s basketball handles American, 71-61 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

UMass basketball downed by Florida Gulf Coast 84-75 -

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Defense key to victory

Since beginning conference play, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team has followed the theory that the best offense is a good defense.

Prior to opening their Atlantic 10 schedule, the Minutewomen (6-6, 3-3 A-10) struggled on offense, failing to reach double-digits in goals in six consecutive games. However, in its last three contests against conference foes, the UMass defense has held its opponents to under 10 scores.

It was on display last weekend when it limited attack opportunities for Temple in a 16-7 win.

UMass coach Alexis Venechanos was pleased to see her team continue the strong play on its side of the field.

“It was great to see some our defenders chipping in, scoring some goals, and that’s important,” Venechanos said. “We’ve been talking about playing team defense the last few weeks so it was great to see that. Katie Florence back there was holding strong and made some key saves.”

While being ranked in the middle of the pack for offense in the A-10 with 10.5 goals per game, the Minutewomen are at the top of the conference on defense. UMass trails only La Salle in the A-10 in goals against average (9.67), making it the only other team allowing under double digits.

“We put in a new defense at the beginning of the season so we knew it would take some time to get used to it,” Venechanos said. “Working on the slide patterns, I think we’ve got them down pat, and now we’re just going out there and taking more chances. We’re playing together as a unit, we’ve been doing some matchups within that, and we’ve been able to adjust game to game.”

On the attack, Venechanos wants to see more passing and assisted goals from the Minutewomen. This season, UMass is tied with Saint Joseph’s for sixth in the conference in assists per game with three. The Hawks (2-10, 0-3 A-10), however, average three fewer goals per game than the Minutewomen.

En route to its 16-goal outburst against the Owls, UMass showed the passing that Venechanos has been looking for. The Minutewomen tied a season-high with eight assists, as seven different players scored goals. Jesse O’Donnell and Nina Sarcona each added three assists, while O’Donnell recorded six points on the day with a hat trick. The first occasion that UMass had as many assists was in an 18-8 victory over Connecticut in the third contest of the season.

“It was another complete team effort, and I was excited to see more assisted goals, and that’s going to be important in the upcoming games,” Venechanos said.

Rather than taking on defenders 1-on-1, the Minutewomen have made it a priority to distribute the ball. The game plan will be no different this weekend when UMass takes on Duquesne and St. Bonaventure.

“Were going to have a fast-paced passing attack and we’ll look more for openings that are not so much on the drive,” senior midfielder Merritt Cosgrove said. “We want more of a passing attack to get more assists.”

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

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