The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team lost its first game of the season this past Saturday, but when looking at the statistics from the game, intangibles could prove vital to its future success as a team.
After a 6-0 start to the season, which propelled them to a No. 12 ranking nationally, the Minutewomen lost 10-8 to No. 15 Albany. However, in the loss, UMass outshot the Great Danes by a margin of plus-11.
With 33 shot opportunities coming in the game, the Minutewomen were not lacking in opportunities to claim a victory. The issue, however, was that these 33 opportunities only led to eight goals by the Minutewomen, their lowest total thus far this season.
Though the loss was not a positive outcome, the fact that the Minutewomen still outshot their opponents is something that can be worked on heading into their next contest against Marist.
In the six games before Albany, UMass took less than 27 shots just twice and recorded a season-high 53 shots against Sienna. The Minutewomen came out victorious against Sienna scoring 16 goals on those 53 shots. In a 17-goal effort against Vermont, the Minutewomen took only 27 shots, scoring on more than half of their shot opportunities.
The team is familiar with success in the shots-on-net category because it has received a high level of production from several players, ranging from veterans to underclassmen.
Coupled with the poor shooting performance, UMass coach Angela McMahon noted that the team needed someone to make a big play at the end of the Albany game and she did not see that.
“In the end, we really needed a big play, and we needed someone to step up and that didn’t really happen,” said McMahon. “We’re going to really challenge the team, the leaders, to see who’s going to step up and make those plays when we need them.”
Katie Ferris, who has posted a team-high 17 goals this season in only five games, also felt as if the loss was not so much because of the way Albany played as much as it was the way UMass did.
“I think we beat ourselves today. It is something that we could have controlled that we just did not capitalize on,” Ferris said.
What McMahon and Ferris are talking about are intangibles, which do not turn up on the scoreboard, such as scoring in clutch situations. The Minutewomen have done this in the past, as they rallied from behind to beat Boston University with less than 10 seconds to play in regulation.
However, in the game against the Great Danes, the Minutewomen were facing an Albany goalie, Anna Berman, who leads the NCAA in goals-against average. Even so, the Minutewomen are among the best teams in the nation on offense, scoring nearly 15 goals per game heading into the contest.
The team has been producing very well in nearly every statistical category possible and even with the loss against Albany, it has shown positive signs. In the end, the Minutewomen season many not come down to the statistical categories so much as it comes down to someone stepping up when needed.
Nicholas Bellofatto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.