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No. 18 UMass finishes road trip against UNH

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The No. 18 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will complete its three-game road trip on Wednesday when it takes on New England rival New Hampshire.

The Minutewomen are coming off a 16-7 win against Siena, a win that improved their record to 4-0.

UMass coach Angela McMahon was humble when discussing her team’s emergence onto the national stage.

“If we’re still ranked in a few weeks, then for us that will hold some weight, but right now it’s a nice thing for to us have, but I don’t think it means too much right now,” McMahon said.

Instead of celebrating the national recognition, McMahon has her team preparing for the future.

“We’re just focused on our defense and our game plan against UNH and what we need to do to be successful against them,” McMahon said.

UMass has the advantage over UNH in draw controls as it averages 14.5 draw controls per game, while the Wildcats average four.

However, if the Wildcats control and posses the ball, their slow-paced offense could give the Minutewomen trouble.

McMahon recognized that draw controls could be the key to a victory, but she also pointed out that they would not determine the game.

“It’s a very important statistic, but it’s not the only defining statistic,” McMahon said. “We’ve have games where we haven’t won the draw control battle and still won [the game].”

Senior attacker Jackie Lyons (nine goals, team-high assists) continues to lead the Minutemen  this season. However, senior midfielder Haley Smith is helping Lyons with the offense, as she leads the Minutewomen in goals with 10 coming off the bench.

Junior attackers Jesse O’Donnell (six goals, two assists), Danielle Pelletier (seven goals) and freshmen attackers Katie Ferris (six goals) and Sam Rush (five goals), also make significant contributions on offense.

The Maroon and White unloaded 53 shots and connected on 16 of them during UMass’ victory over the Saints.

McMahon was glad to see the offense pick up after her team averaged 24 shots in the first three games of the season.

“I wanted us to shoot more, because we had been really capitalizing on our shots and I just wanted us to do it more often and we did that,” McMahon said.

She also thought the shooting barrage served as a good lesson for her team.

“I think we learned our lesson in terms of what we need to work on with shooting and just taking our time on our shots,” McMahon said.

While the offense has gotten much of the attention this season, junior goalkeeper Katie Florence has quietly put together another solid season in the cage.

“Katie’s been our rock on defense,” McMahon said. “She’s the glue of this team [and] she connects everybody, including the freshman and underclassmen.”

Florence has collected all four wins for the Minutewomen in goal and has posted a career-low 9.39 goal against average.

Like the Minutewomen, the Wildcats opened up the season with a win at Holy Cross. Last Saturday, they played Dartmouth on the road and lost, 9-5.

UNH is prepared to build on its 10-7 record in 2010 as it returns four of its top five scorers from last season.

According to McMahon, the recent national attention can only continue if the team maintains its form.

“In order for us to prove that we’re one of the best teams in the area, we have to beat the best teams,” McMahon said.

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

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