UMass women’s lacrosse holds on for win against UConn
In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament first round, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team once again defeated Connecticut with a 7-5 road win on Saturday.
“They’re one of the top teams out there and they have tremendous coaching, fantastic players and I think they’re going to do really big things this season,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “So for us to come out of there on the road with a win, where they are very good at home, definitely makes it special.”
McMahon, who was the head coach for UConn for two years prior to leaving for UMass in 2010, downplayed the idea that Saturday’s win in Storrs, Conn., had any extra meaning.
“Anytime you get a win over such a quality opponent, no matter who it is, it makes it special,” McMahon said.
After giving up the game’s first goal, the Minutewomen (2-0) took a commanding 5-1 lead into halftime led by senior attacker Katie Ferris’s two goals and two assists.
Ferris, who broke UMass’s all-time record for goals on Feb. 9 at Vanderbilt, now has a team-leading six goals and six assists for the season.
“She was able to get good looks in terms of feeding the ball,” McMahon said. “UConn was playing a zone defense that we were able to get our passing game going and because (Ferris) has such great field vision she was able to find the extra person.”
Like McMahon, Ferris also has a connection with the Huskies, as she was recruited by McMahon when she was at UConn, but followed her coach to Amherst in 2010.
“It feels good to beat them,” Ferris said. “You want to win every game, but it just meant a little bit more considering there are ties with all of us there.”
The Huskies quickly cut the lead to 5-2 in the second half with a goal from senior midfielder Lauren Kahn.
After UMass senior attacker Sam Rush scored her second goal of the game to extend the lead back to four goals, Kahn scored three straight to cut the Minutewomen’s lead to 6-5 with 12:40 left in the game.
According to McMahon, Kahn, who was named Big East midfielder of the year last season, was a primary concern heading into Saturday’s game.
“(Kahn) carried their team (Saturday),” McMahon said. “She wanted to win, she’s such a fierce competitor, and she just does everything whether it’s draws, goals, or creating turnovers.”
“She’s always looking to make a play and I think (Saturday) shows how badly she wanted it.”
Ferris also acknowledged the performance of her scoring counterpart.
“Good players step up when they have to, and she definitely did that,” Ferris said. “All we needed to do was figure out how to stop her, because she had a great game (Saturday).”
Ultimately, the Minutewomen did stop Kahn over the final thirteen minutes, as an insurance goal on a free position shot by junior midfielder Ellie Bullitt sealed the victory for UMass.
McMahon praised the defensive performances of junior goalkeeper Rachel Vallarelli and sophomore midfielder Kate Farnham.
Vallarelli, who finished with seven saves in net, “came up with tremendous saves on shots that really should have been goals,” according to McMahon. She added that Farnham was effective in coming up with ground balls, forcing turnovers and providing “relentless pressure” on defense.
“There were a lot of situations where we were turning the ball over too much and those two made big plays on defense,” McMahon said.
UMass returns to McGuirk Stadium to play Holy Cross in its home opener on Tuesday at 3 p.m.
Anthony Chiusano can be reached at email@example.com and can be followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.