April 24, 2014

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Minutewomen face roughed-up Saints

After upsetting No. 18 Boston University on Wednesday, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team now has the less-daunting task of defeating Siena, a team that was just pulverized 18-2.

UMass (3-0) will hit the road again Saturday for the third time this season as they travel to face the Saints (0-1).

The Minutewomen won a thriller on Wednesday against in-state rival BU that went down to the final seconds.

Freshman Katie Ferris was the hero, scoring her first collegiate goal with 5.2 seconds remaining, and leading her team to a 13-12 win.

At the start of the season, UMass coach Angela McMahon was expecting big things from the freshman out of Carthage, N.Y., but Ferris could not play her first two games due to injuries. McMahon was thrilled to see the freshman make a clutch play down the stretch of her first game.

“It was a great finish to a great game,” McMahon said.

Jackie Lyons added four goals and an assist, while Jesse O’Donnell, Haley Smith and Cori Murray each added a pair of goals for UMass.

Junior goalie Katie Florence improved her season record to 3-0 as she stopped six shots in the cage.

McMahon has been particularly impressed with the play of the bench thus far.

“Depth is really important for us, especially with it being such a long season in terms of our game turnover,” McMahon said. “When we have two games in a week, depth is crucial for us.”

Production off the bench has certainly been there this season as the bench has combined for 16 goals so far this season.

Another factor playing into the Minutewomen’s early success has been their efficiency on offense. On Wednesday, UMass scored on 13 of its 19 shot attempts.

“Going forward I would like us to get ourselves in position to shoot a little bit more, but the fact that we’re capitalizing on the opportunities we take is great,” McMahon said.

 McMahon has enjoyed instant success in her first year as a head coach at UMass. McMahon said most of the early success is due to the team’s unselfishness and understanding of team unity.

“You can have great players on a team, but unless you’re cohesive and have team chemistry, you just have great players that still can’t win games,” McMahon said.

However, she recognizes that her team can’t get ahead of themselves as it’s a long season and plenty of work must be done.

“It’s still early,” McMahon said. “We still have five more [non-conference] games to go so we have to make sure that we’re not content with where we are.”

The Minutewomen may have an unblemished record, but McMahon mentioned a few areas where her team could still improve.

“We had a lot of turnovers, and we had some shots we shouldn’t have given up yesterday,” McMahon said. “We definitely have some things we need to improve on.”

Despite suffering a 16-goal loss to Albany in Siena’s first game, the Saints are still a dangerous team as they return 10 starters from a 2010 team that went 7-9 and 3-3 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). That 3-3 record in MAAC play followed a season where they failed to win a game in the conference, finishing at 0-6. Also, 80 percent of their scorers from last year return for this season.

“Siena is a great team, I know that they were a much improved team last season; they’re in a pretty competitive conference,” McMahon said.

McMahon said that Saturday’s game could be a battle against the Saints.

“It’s tough to play your first game on the road against Albany who I think in some polls are Top 20,” said McMahon.” I expect them to rebound off of this and come ready to play Saturday.”

Jackson Alexander can be reached at jtalexan@student.umass.edu.

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