The No. 19 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team under UMass head coach Angela McMahon is off to its best start (5-0) since 1986. During the ’86 campaign, the Minutewomen began its season undefeated through six games, and with a win over Stony Brook this Saturday, the 2011 UMass squad could tie that mark and add to the programs history.
The Minutewomen posted one of their most impressive wins of the season on March 2, as defeating New Hampshire, 11-4. The win over UNH was the first time that the Minutewomen squad defeated the Wildcats since 2005.
Adding to this already impressive start to the season, the Minutewomen were one of just 20 teams in the nation to be undefeated after completing two full weeks of play. The team is firing on all cylinders, as the play in goal, defense, midfield and attack has improved since the beginning of the season.
“I think the one thing that we are happy with is how we have been improving, and that is the biggest thing,” said McMahon. “That’s been our goal, is just to get better every single game and every day we are at practice.”
Not only have the Minutewomen been improving, they have also been winning on the road. Having played only one home game this season, the Minutewomen have proven that they can beat nonconference opponents even when the other team holds home field advantage.
In the Minutewomen’s win over UNH, Junior goalkeeper Katie Florence grabbed a season-high 16 saves on 21 shots, which was just two saves short of her career-high.
“She [Florence] is just playing great, she is stepping up her game, and I think she is getting better,” said McMahon. “She has always been a very good goalie, but for her to continue to improve has really helped our team, and has really helped spark the momentum going the other way.”
Stony Brook is coming off of a 15-8 loss to John Hopkins this past Saturday, which puts them at 2-2 thus far this season.
In the Seawolves’ last outing, starting goalie Mickey Cahill grabbed a season-high 15 saves, but the 37 total shots by the Blue Jays were simply too much for the team to overcome.
With the goalies for both squads posting their best outings of the season in their last game, this matchup could come down to which team plays better in net.
Florence has been playing at a top level as of late, but she has also been getting a great deal of help from her defense.
“The defense in front of her [Florence] is doing a very good job of forcing some pretty low angle shots which is allowing her to make those saves,” McMahon said.
The Minutewomen have also seen an increase in productivity from the underclassmen, as freshman attacker Katie Ferris scored four goals to help propel the team to victory over UNH.
The transition Ferris is making from the high school level to the collegiate level is not an easy one, but Ferris noted that the older players, as well as McMahon, have really helped this process.
“The older girls are definitely there for me all the time, and if I have any questions, they are always there to answer them and help me – all the time,” Ferris said. “Angela is a great coach and has a great personality, and she is someone that I would want to work for, and work hard for everyday.”
The hard work that the team has been putting in has been paying off so far, and the Minutewomen are looking to add to their five-game winning streak by defeating the Seawolves in just their second home game of the season.
Nicholas Bellofatto can be reached at email@example.com.