Scrolling Headlines:

UMass women’s basketball handles Duquesne at home -

January 16, 2017

UMass men’s basketball’s late comeback falls short after blowing 15-point first-half lead -

January 15, 2017

UMass hockey outlasted at home against No. 6 UMass Lowell -

January 14, 2017

Hailey Leidel hits second buzzer beater of the season to give UMass women’s basketball win over Davidson -

January 13, 2017

UMass football hosts Maine at Fenway Park in 2017 -

January 12, 2017

UMass men’s basketball snaps losing streak and upsets Dayton Wednesday night at Mullins Center -

January 11, 2017

UMass women’s track and field takes second at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 5 Boston University at Frozen Fenway -

January 8, 2017

UMass professor to make third appearance on ‘Jeopardy!’ -

January 8, 2017

UMass women’s basketball suffers brutal loss on road against Saint Joseph’s -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops thirds straight, falls to VCU 81-64 -

January 7, 2017

UMass men’s basketball drops tightly-contested conference matchup against George Mason Wednesday night -

January 4, 2017

Late-game defense preserves UMass women’s basketball’s win against rival Rhode Island -

January 4, 2017

AIC shuts out UMass hockey 3-0 at Mullins Center -

January 4, 2017

UMass professor to appear as contestant on ‘Jeopardy!’ Thursday night -

January 4, 2017

Penalties plague UMass hockey in Mariucci Classic championship game -

January 2, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falls in A-10 opener to St. Bonaventure and its veteran backcourt -

December 30, 2016

UMass woman’s basketball ends FIU Holiday Classic with 65-47 loss to Drexel -

December 29, 2016

UMass men’s basketball finishes non-conference schedule strong with win over Georgia State -

December 28, 2016

Brett Boeing joins UMass hockey for second half of season -

December 28, 2016

Women’s lacrosse just as good as men’s

When a school features both a men’s and women’s team for a particular sport, what sometimes happens is that one team dominates the other. That much can be said for the Massachusetts softball team over the baseball team or the men’s basketball team over the women’s basketball team. Usually, it’s because one team’s success overshadows the other program.

Such is not the case for the women’s lacrosse team.

While the Minutemen dominate the spring sports headlines and usually has a nice, shiny national ranking next it, the Minutewomen’s accomplishments are nothing to scoff at.

Coming off back-to-back Atlantic 10 titles and a NCAA tournament play-in game last year and appearance in 2009, women’s lacrosse’s track record is more along the lines of field hockey and softball rather than baseball and men’s basketball. They may not be a heavyweight going toe-to-toe with the powerhouse conferences year after year, but they get the job done.

It’s easy to forget a program like women’s lacrosse. Lacrosse is a quickly growing game and is starting to take root in New England. However, UMass students don’t have the same mind for the game as students in Mid-Atlantic schools like Duke, Delaware or Maryland.

In her first year at the helm for the Minutewomen after leading Connecticut for two years, UMass coach Angela McMahon is seeing the fruits of that success around the athletic department.

“I think in terms of support, at least from the administrative side,  what I’ve seen so far is nothing but support for our program,” McMahon said. “People are definitely rooting for us for sure.”

Back in 2009, the Minutewomen got the opportunity to play their first night game under the lights at McGuirk Alumni Stadium against then-No. 1 Northwestern. That game broke the program’s attendance record with 893.

Since then, the program has been taking full advantage of the unused turf at McGuirk. This season, the Minutewomen are playing host at McGuirk six times compared to just two at the usual home of Garber Field.

The situation has been indicative of the positive changes McMahon has seen around the program recently.

“Having the opportunity to play in McGuirk Stadium has been great for us,” McMahon said. “It’s a great facility, now having lights, it’s great for us. We’re really happy with where we’re at as a program for sure.”

UMass opens their home slate Saturday against Vermont at McGuirk, and McMahon said that she’s happy with what she’s seen across campus, but knows that fans aren’t going to come out of the woodwork right away.

“It’s tough getting people’s attention in the middle of February,” McMahon said.

It’s particularly difficult to start buzz around sports programs when the spring season at UMass doesn’t have the headliners like football, basketball or hockey. It’s even harder when those sports are still-growing sports like the two lacrosse programs or baseball, which doesn’t get the attention as a college product the way that basketball and football do.

In a way, men’s lacrosse is the headliner for spring sports almost by default, especially with the difficulty that comes with selling women’s sports to college students (sorry softball). Women’s lacrosse, meanwhile, still has to grow its market share if it wants to make up ground against other programs.

Then again, lacrosse doesn’t exactly have the legacy of most programs on campus do, particularly in the New England region.

By the time I graduated high school, the men’s lacrosse team at my school had just finished its first winning season. By winning I mean that they had won at least one game. The women’s team, meanwhile, was struggling to meet varsity status.

So when I came to UMass, it was a surprise to see the two programs run so successfully, especially with the issues the programs have had in recent years. The men’s team has put its off-the-field incidents behind them while the women have maintained consistency, even with the program’s third coach in six seasons and some players leaving the program during then-coach Alexis Venechanos’ tenure.

As much success as the program has seen, there remains a glass ceiling of sorts for women’s programs on college campuses, unless you’re UConn women’s basketball. Those 839 fans that attended the first game at McGuirk may be as far as the program’s potential can take it attendance-wise, barring some explosion in wins during McMahon’s tenure at UMass (possible, but unlikely).

In the meantime, women’s lacrosse has moved from a niche sport to one that’s entrenched itself at UMass and more and more so in the New England region and, more importantly for the program, atop the A-10.

Nick O’Malley is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at nomalley@student.umass.edu.

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