It was a day to remember for several members of the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team on Saturday afternoon, as its 20-7 blowout victory over Marist came packaged with career-days.
The Minutewomen (3-0) were led by attacker Lauren Terracciano in the third game of its five-game homestand to open the season. The junior started the day with four first-half goals, and ultimately finished with five goals and two assists to match a career-best seven points.
Sophomore attacker Sam Rush came off the bench to score a career-high four goals – all coming in the second half – in the win over the visiting Red Foxes (0-2). UMass coach Angela McMahon had high praise for her standout performers.
“Both girls really stepped up today,” said McMahon. “[Terracciano] is very dynamic in that she is very quick, but she is also a great feeder. She keeps her head up and is like our point guard. Sam Rush works very well off the ball. She is a great cutter in terms of beating her defender and knowing when to cut. The two of them together are a great duo.”
Tanner Guarino also added a hat trick, matching a career-best in goals. Guarino’s third goal was emblematic of the type of offense UMass intended to display against the Red Foxes. After dumping the ball off to Terracciano, Guarino cut quickly into the middle. A timely return pass left her one-on-one with the Marist goalie, and she finished easily.
“A huge goal of ours was moving off the ball,” said McMahon. “We were looking for more assisted goals, and we did a better job of that in this game.”
Freshman Ellie Bullitt scored her first collegiate goal, but it was her ball distribution from behind the net that pleased McMahon most. The midfielder collected four assists, finding her teammates cutting across the goal area time after time.
“Ellie Bullitt did a great job of feeding behind the cage,” said McMahon. “That’s what we’re looking to do more of, getting more people involved in the offense.”
First to benefit from Bullitt’s fine passing display was Nina Sarcona. The freshman recognized Sarcona driving toward the cage and found her stick in traffic to create a goal early in the second half. Rush also benefited, receiving passes on two of her goals from Bullitt.
Rush also displayed a strength in stick-handling on one of the goals that Bullitt didn’t factor into. After collecting a pass from Terracciano, Rush made a move to free herself up in front of the cage to score her third goal. The move came as no surprise to McMahon, who has been impressed by Rush’s stick-work in practice.
“Sam has probably one of the best stick-works on our team,” said McMahon. “I get to see it every day in practice, and now we get to see it in a game.”
Coming off a victory against a tough Boston University squad on Wednesday, the UMass coaches took the opportunity to rest key players against a weaker Marist foe. It was not a planned strategy, McMahon said, but as the game wore on, she saw an opportunity to give her top players a rest and give those who had impressed in practice a chance.
“We just wanted to see how the game went, and how our offense was going,” said McMahon. “We just tried to kind of progressively mix people in to see them work with one another. People that have obviously been stepping up in practice, and proving themselves, we wanted to make sure they earned the time which a lot of girls did.”
Of all the goal-scorers, the Minutewomen’s single-season record holder, Katie Ferris, was not among them. The sophomore started the contest, but played no part beyond the first quarter.
“Absolutely [it is encouraging], we want everyone to be a threat,” said McMahon. “Everyone on the field in that attacking zone needs to be a threat because when we play NCAA tournament teams, we’re going to have to beat them as a team, and beat them together.”
McGuirk Stadium will be busy with lacrosse action again on Wednesday afternoon, when UMass hosts rival New Hampshire.
Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.