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Minutewomen bruise Blackbirds in home opener

The No. 14 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team had no problem in its home opener on Saturday, thrashing LIU Brooklyn, 21-8, at McGuirk Stadium.

Junior attack Sam Rush, who scored a hat trick within the first nine minutes of play, notching three goals on three shots, led a UMass (2-1) squad that tallied 15 goals in the first half alone.

Juniors Tanner Guarino and Katie Ferris also scored three goals each, and five of their combined six scores were notched before halftime.

UMass coach Angela McMahon said she was happy with the win, but there is a lot to improve based on her team’s performance against the Blackbirds (0-1).

“I think that we were pretty sloppy overall,” McMahon said. “I think the goals that we gave up were pretty easy transition goals. We could’ve tightened up a little bit on our defensive end, and a lot of the turnovers that we had were us throwing the ball away and being careless with the ball.”

Hat tricks by senior Caitlin Farrell and junior Shakoya Smith powered LIU Brooklyn, which added four goals in the latter frame.

The Minutewomen outshot LIU, 40-14.

Rush, who emphasized taking only high percentage shots, said her team’s win is a good stepping stone for future success.

“I think we dominated, but I think that we could do better,” Rush said. “We made a lot of little mistakes and a big focus going into a big game next week is going to be cleaning up the little mistakes we made today and focusing on how we can improve ourselves.”

McMahon, who started putting in some of her younger players into the game after halftime, including at goalkeeper, said the youth on the field proved their mettle.

“A lot of different people stepped up today and I’m glad they showed that anybody’s ready to score at any time,” McMahon said. “Everyone works so hard in practice every single day. We want to make sure we’re rewarding people that work hard in practice by getting them in games.”

With the team’s first victory at home, and its second straight victory overall, McMahon considers building an early winning streak to be a crucial focus.

“We really wanted to focus on being really aggressive to cage, getting a lot of shots off and really making the most of our opportunities,” McMahon said. “Just dominating time of possession with the ball, and working the ball around, I think they did a great job with that.”

Rush said that big wins are never expected, but are always a goal.

“We definitely needed a big win,” Rush said. “Everybody on the bench got in today and performed to the best of their abilities. Everyone playing well was a big goal today.

“Our team plays very well together,” she continued. “We know each other’s natural instincts, it’s like we’ve been playing together for years. When we’re good, we really do catch fire.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at pcappiel@student.umass.edu and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.

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