When the No. 13 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team takes the field against New Hampshire on Saturday, two familiar faces will be there to greet them.
Former Minutewomen assistants under UMass coach Angela McMahon, Sarah Albrecht and Eileen Finn, left UMass (2-1) over the summer to take the vacant coaching positions with the Wildcats (0-1). Albrecht took the head coaching position, while Finn became one of her assistants.
While the departures of both Albrecht and Finn left two open spots on the Minutewomen coaching staff, the friendships that McMahon created with them is something she will always cherish.
“Sarah (Albrecht) coached with me, but she’s also one of my close friends,” McMahon said. “We played together in college, so we have a great relationship and I think the whole staff there is doing a great job there of really getting the program going. You can already see improvements in their team already.”
Friendships aside, there is still a very important game to be played. UMass is coming off two decisive victories, including last Saturday’s 21-8 victory over LIU-Brooklyn in its home opener.
“I think between the second half of the (Southern California) game and leading into the LIU game, it was definitely a team contribution,” McMahon said. “On offense, we saw a lot of different people contribute, both goals and assists and moving the ball really well. And we got a lot of different people involved, which I think is key for us going forward.”
Since the second half of the game against the Trojans, the Minutewomen have outscored opponents 33-11 and have had 19 different players register at least one point in their first three games.
While the success has been there early on, McMahon still sees turnovers as a cause for concern with her team.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on just taking care of the ball,” McMahon said. “Even on Saturday, we had a lot of turnovers and a lot of those turnovers were unforced. It was just mistakes and sloppy passes and missed balls that were our own responsibilities.”
In the first three games, UMass has turned the ball over 43 times, an average of 14.3 per game. While the turnovers did not come back to haunt the Minutewomen against LIU or USC, it is an area of the game that the Wildcats feed off of.
“We’re really trying to clean those up and minimize those because against a team like UNH, that’s pretty well coached and disciplined, if we make mistakes like that, they’re going to make us pay on the other end,” McMahon said.
The longstanding rivalry, McMahon said, brings a lot of intensity to the game.
“It’s just exciting that it’s a huge rival for us,” McMahon said. “I think it’s the team that we’ve played the most in the history of our program. And being a New England state school rival, you just have that desire to come away with a win because you want that pride of beating one of those big rivals that we have.”
Saturday’s game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. in Durham, N.H., at New Hampshire’s Memorial Field.
Patrick Strohecker can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @MDC_Strohecker.