The No. 14 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team won its third consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship Sunday in a 16-12 win over Richmond at Temple’s Geasey Field.
Not only did the Minutewomen (16-2, 7-0) complete their sweep of A-10 competition, but they did so in record-breaking fashion.
Junior attack Jesse O’Donnell was named the A-10 Championship’s Most Valuable Player after tying a career-high with five goals to lead the UMass offense, which recorded a tournament-record 32 goals over the two weekend games.
“Overall, we played great, we scored a lot of goals, we played great defensively and I think going towards next weekend’s play-in game, I think it’s going to give us huge momentum and confidence in our favor,” said UMass coach Angela McMahon.
The Minutewomen move on to host Canisius in the NCAA Tournament play-in game on Saturday at McGuirk Stadium at 1 p.m. The Griffins beat Farifield 13-8 on Sunday to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
The Minutewomen tied the single-game tournament record for goals scored, both during Sunday’s win and in Friday’s semifinal win over Duquesne, 16-8.
Junior Jackie Lyons (two goals) and freshman Katie Ferris (three goals), two of the Mintuwomen’s eight point-scorers, both etched their names in the school record-books after Sunday’s win.
After registering nine points in two games this weekend, Lyons (220 points) broke a 31-year UMass record for career points scored (Cari Nickerson, 219 points, 1977-80).
Additionally, Ferris tied the single-season goal-scoring mark set by Kathleen Typadis in 2007 with 52 goals on the season.
O’Donnell scored four of the first five UMass goals to begin the first half. She had a pair of goals beginning almost three minutes into the first half, coming 14 seconds apart to put the Minutewomen up 2-0.
Richmond notched its initial tally just over two minutes later, before freshman Tanner Guarino (career-high three goals) and O’Donnell put UMass up 4-1 with two more quick scores, this time coming 10 seconds apart.
“She saw her opening, she took it, she’s confident with the ball and, again, she has amazing speed,” said McMahon. “I think they put a lot of focus on Jackie [Lyons] and Katie [Ferris] behind the net, and doing that really opened up looks for our girls playing up top.”
The Spiders cut the deficit back to one with back-to-back goals by Gabi Wiegand (three goals) to make the score 4-3 with 14:46 to play in the opening frame.
But the Minutewomen offense found a spark before halftime, scoring six straight goals near the end of the half.
Richmond responded with its own scoring streak of three straight goals, carrying over into the start of the second half. The Minutewomen, undeterred, went on another six-goal tear to earn its biggest advantage at 16-6 with 15:18 to play in the game.
Following the run, however, the UMass defense had a lapse to close out the game, allowing the Spiders to go on a six-goal run of their own. Regardless, the Minutewomen will shift their focus to next weekend’s NCAA play-in game with hopes of earning an automatic berth into the 16-team tournament field.
“The next [goal] is winning next week’s play-in game so that we can be in the NCAA Tournament. That’s what it’s all about,” said McMahon. “Getting into the NCAA [Tournament] is the dream. I think, especially, what you see with March Madness and all the other crazy NCAA tournaments, once you get there, really anything can happen.”
Dan Gigliotti can be reached at email@example.com.