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Atlantic 10 conference gains competitive spotlight

Head coach Angela McMahon and the No. 15 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team couldn’t have asked for a better start in Atlantic 10 play. But the Minutewomen’s clean Atlantic 10 record will be put to the test this weekend against two of the best teams in the league.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

UMass has won its first four conference games and possesses an impressive 11-2 record going into this weekend, which has pleased McMahon.

“I think it’s been great for us, especially for building confidence and being able to get a lot of different players in and having a lot of different people scoring,” said McMahon.

The Minutewomen will host George Washington on Friday, then Richmond on Sunday. Both games will have strong postseason implications as the Minutewomen continually find themselves matched up with Richmond in the postseason, including last year’s championship game.

“I would say in our conference it’s a huge game for us,” said McMahon on the Richmond game. “Depending on if we take care of business against George Washington it’s probably going to determine who gets the top seed in the A-10 Tournament.”

Currently, the Minutewomen and the Spiders sit atop the A-10 standings, each with 4-0 records, while the Colonials enter Friday’s game at 2-2 in conference play and are tied for third place.

“There are a couple of teams in the A-10 that really can compete with any of those top programs,” said McMahon.

This year, UMass has played a vital role in putting the A-10 on the map. Early in the season they defeated then-No. 18 Boston University and then played tough games with No. 2 Northwestern and No. 7 Albany. The tough non-conference schedule, combined with their 11-2 record, has earned them the No. 15 rank in the nation.

The Minutewomen are not the only team making strides from the A-10 as several teams have added nationally-ranked teams to their respective schedules. Based on the current Insider Magazine Women’s Lacrosse Top 20, six different A-10 teams have played teams ranked in the top 20. This includes Temple, the Colonials, the Minutewomen, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne.

Meanwhile, Richmond has had a tough non-conference schedule as they have  compiled an impressive resume that includes No. 1 Maryland, No. 4 Duke, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 9 James Madison, No. 11 Virginia and No. 18 William and Mary.

“It’s a conference that has been improving and getting better and hopefully we have some more nationally ranked teams in our conference as we go forward,” said McMahon.

Despite adding top 20 teams to their schedules, the various A-10 teams haven’t found successful results as they went a combined 0-12 against teams in the current top 20.

McMahon attributes the domination of A-10 teams to the overall depth of the power conferences.

“I think the biggest thing is the depth of those conferences where teams one through six are all in the top 15,” said McMahon.

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

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