UMass women’s lacrosse remains undefeated
Powered by eight first-half goals, the No. 11 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team never faltered on Wednesday in a 12-6 victory over Holy Cross in its home opener.
Leading goal scorers Katie Ferris (eight), Sam Rush (seven) and Tanner Guarino (five) each scored twice for the Minutewomen (3-0), but UMass coach Angela McMahon said that she was most encouraged by the newcomers to the score sheet.
The other five UMass goals were the first of the season for junior Amy Tiernan, sophomores Nicole Troost, Rory Sadoff and Eileen McDonald and freshman Hannah Murphy.
“I think we were moving the ball pretty well and there were a lot of different people being threats,” McMahon said. “We saw a lot of different people on the score sheets today, which is important for us going forward as an offense.”
In particular, McMahon commended the effort of Murphy on draw controls, where she won four for the day.
“She was able to step in as a freshman and meet her moment in terms of stepping up for the team,” McMahon said. “Draw controls have been something that we have been stressing, especially after we came up on the short hand of that against UConn (on Saturday).”
On Wednesday, UMass won the draw control battle 12-8 against the Crusaders (0-2), following the 8-6 final deficit against the Huskies.
“We really wanted to get back in terms of doing well on the draws,” McMahon said. “(Murphy) was a big reason for that today.”
It was a bitter 28 degrees at the start of the game, which was delayed by an hour due to snow, so another key to the Minutewomen’s offense was patience, according to Ferris, who finished with four assists along with her two goals.
“A lot of our success came from being patient today, because the elements were not very good,” Ferris said. “All week we were focusing on fixing those tiny errors that we were making and not causing our own problems. I think we did a lot better today.”
According to McMahon, these “tiny errors” included an excess of unforced turnovers on offense. McMahon said that this has been a primary concern throughout the first three games of the season.
On Wednesday, UMass finished with 17 turnovers. However, McMahon said that the team showed better decision making, especially considering the weather conditions.
“The conditions were pretty tough and I think we were making the right decisions,” McMahon said. “The execution wasn’t always there, but at least we were making the right decisions with the ball.
“Hopefully in different conditions, we’ll finish more.”
On the defensive side, McMahon said that she was once again happy with their performance, led by junior starting goalkeeper Rachel Vallarelli.
“We caused a lot of turnovers, we did a good job of pressuring and (Vallarelli) had a couple of nice saves in net,” McMahon said. “So we definitely did well.”
In 44 minutes, Valarelli finished with three saves and three goals allowed before she was given a rest in the second half, in favor of Leigh Henjes.
In front of Henjes, the UMass defense finished with 20 caused turnovers.
“We really communicated well as a unit today,” Valarelli said.
As the Minutewomen continue to try to climb the national rankings, they will next host Boston University at McGuirk Stadium on Feb. 26 at 3 p.m..
Anthony Chiusano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.