April 16, 2014

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Minutewomen prepare for title game rematch

The No. 15 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is nearing the end of its conference schedule, playing two of its final three regular season games this weekend.

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

The Minutewomen (11-2) are on a four game winning streak, readying to host George Washington with a perfect A-10 record (4-0).
    
UMass will play games against the Colonials (5-9, 2-2 A-10) on Friday at 4 p.m. and Richmond (7-7, 4-0 A-10) on Sunday at 12 p.m. at McGuirk Stadium. 
    
The Minutewomen enter this weekend’s slate following wins over Duquesne (13-6) and St. Bonaventure (16-10).
    
After a couple of slow starts in its opening two A-10 games against La Salle and Temple, UMass got off to a quick lead against the Dukes, taking a 5-0 lead just over 15 minutes into the opening half.
    
Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon would appreciate seeing the same intensity to begin this weekend’s games.

“Attacking-wise I really want us to set the tone against both teams and really come out firing and getting a lot of good looks on [the] cage,” said McMahon.

Based on the past four games, McMahon has little to worry about when it comes to the attack, as the Minutewomen have produced a fury of goals. UMass has averaged 14.5 goals per game in conference play and are the top-scoring offense in the A-10 (14.23 goals per game).

The Minutewomen are receiving production from plenty of different players, including freshman Katie Ferris, who continued her high-scoring freshman campaign with 10 points (nine goals, one assist) in two games last weekend.

Ferris and junior Ali Houlis, received A-10 accolades for their play as they were named Rookie and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.

“[Ali’s] really great about hustling and doing the dirty work for us,” said McMahon. “Defensively, she’s one our leaders on the defensive end. She’s constantly communicating making sure everyone’s on the same page.”

GW and Richmond rank among the lowest in the conference in goals against average with 11.64 and 12.98, respectively, but their offensive outputs indicate that this weekend’s matchups could end up in a shootout. 

The Colonials are averaging nearly 15 goals per game in their five wins and are currently scoring over 11 goals per game total. GW split its four A-10 games this season, behind the play of junior midfielder Sarah Phillips who leads the team with 53 points this season (30 goals, 23 assists).

In a rematch of last year’s A-10 tournament final, UMass’s game against Richmond on Sunday could be an indication of which team will earn the  No. 1 spot for this year’s postseason tournament. 

Richmond boasts a perfect A-10 record, tied atop the conference standings.

A Minutewomen victory might be contingent on slowing down junior midfielder Mary Flowers.

Flowers is second in the A-10 in goals and points per game (2.62 goals per game, 4.15 points per game), trailing only Ferris in both categories.

Aside from the individual threats on either team, McMahon is concerned more with stopping the imposing team offenses of each team more than anything else.

“Both teams are very balanced scoring, they don’t necessarily have one player that does it all, so we’re going to have to play really good, solid team defense,” said McMahon.

Dan Gigliotti can be reached at dgigliot@student.umass.edu.

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