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UMass women’s lacrosse pulls away from Vanderbilt in season opener

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

After a close first half of play, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team took off in the second half and never looked back, winning the season opener against Vanderbilt on Sunday 13-6.

Leading 5-4 at halftime, the Minutewomen (1-0) opened the second half with four unanswered goals, outscoring the Commodores (1-1) 8-2 in the half to put the game away.

“I think the fact that we were able to pull away like that really shows just how motivated and tough our team is,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said.

McMahon added that a big key to the turnaround was ball control. She said the play of draw specialist Kelsey McGovern, as well as Melissa Carelli and Kelsey Sheridan, who finished with seven combined draw controls, was instrumental to the team’s victory.

“With those people coming up with that 50-50 opportunity, giving us possession, absolutely directly correlated it to us being able to put it away on the offensive end,” she said.

Another highlight on the day was the play of Katie Ferris. The senior attackman led the team with four goals and four assists, and broke the program’s all-time record for goals with a new mark of 171.

“She played fantastic,” McMahon said. “A couple of her shots weren’t falling for her in the first half and she did a fantastic job of making adjustments the second half where she was getting better quality shots off.

“I think she was also realizing what her defender was doing against her and when she had opportunities to go to the goal versus setting up her teammates, and again, that balance of being able to score and feed that makes her so dynamic and helps our team overall be really tough to beat because she can do both of those things.”

UMass took a quick 4-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of the first half, but Vanderbilt came back with three unanswered goals by Mallory Schonk to tie it up with two minutes left. A goal by Carelli just before time expired gave the Minutewomen a one-goal lead going into the break.

McMahon said overall the team’s play was a little sloppy in the first half.

“We had some nice plays here and there but we weren’t really ever able to gain good momentum to really push a good lead,” she said. “I think part of that is attributed to what a good team Vanderbilt is, but I think moving forward, definitely something we learned in this game was that we need to take better care of the ball.”

UMass will next travel to Storrs, Conn., for a game against Connecticut. The game is set for Saturday at 1 p.m.

After defeating the Huskies last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, McMahon is sure the game will make for a tough matchup.

“With Vanderbilt, we had a little bit of unfamiliarity because the teams had never played, but UConn, it’s the opposite,” McMahon said. “So, we’re going to have to really have to be crisp and sharp to beat such a good UConn team.”

Jesse Mayfield-Sheehan can be reached at jmayfiel@umass.edu and can be followed on Twitter @jgms88.

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