No. 10 UMass women’s lax suffers first loss of the season
In the No. 10 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team’s first nine games of the season, the Minutewomen found themselves behind on the scoreboard for a combined total of 15 minutes en route to a 9-0 start.
However, Tuesday night’s game against No. 7 Northwestern (5-3) was a different story as UMass (9-1) found itself trailing less than two minutes into the game, as the Wildcats cruised to an easy 10-6 victory at McGuirk Stadium.
The loss was the 12th straight defeat suffered at the hands of Northwestern and it also snapped the Minutewomen’s 31-game winning streak at home.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t execute when we needed to,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “We had the looks there, but we just didn’t finish it and that’s something that we’re going to need to do going forward.”
The 10 goals allowed on Tuesday were the most allowed by UMass all season, as the Wildcats put 20 shots on goal.
“I think they’re a really good team at exploiting our weaknesses,” senior defender Kelsey McGovern said. “They moved the ball pretty well and everyone is a threat on offense.”
Northwestern opened up with a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 15 minutes behind goals by Christy Turner, Kat DeRonda and Kara Mupo. Sam Rush finally put the Minutewomen on the board with her 31st goal of the season with 13 minutes, 45 seconds left to play in the first half.
Rush, the team leader in goals, tallied another score with 5:51 left in the first half, but the Wildcats struck two more times and held a 5-2 advantage at the half, which was UMass’ first halftime deficit of the season.
After the game, Rush credited Northwestern’s “high-pressure defense” with limiting the Minutewomen’s – and in particular, senior attacker Katie Ferris’ – scoring opportunities.
“(Ferris) was getting face-guarded, so with her pretty much out of the game, I don’t think we adjusted well enough to put points on the board,” Rush said. “I wish we could have moved the ball quicker.”
Ferris, who leads UMass with 46 points for the season, finished Tuesday’s game with one assist and no shots on goal.
The second half also opened up with a 3-0 Northwestern run, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 8-2 with 24:39 left to play.
The Minutewomen finished the game with a 5-2 run behind goals from senior Tanner Guarino, junior Courtney McGrath, Rush (3) and senior Melissa Carelli.
McMahon said that although “the execution was clearly lacking” for the majority of Tuesday’s game, she was encouraged by the late offensive success.
“There were signs of us improving today by the way we played,” McMahon said. “We just couldn’t do that the whole game.”
She also said it was a positive sign going forward as the team will open up Atlantic 10 play next week.
“Our resiliency was great in terms of how we battled back and narrowed the gap a little bit,” McMahon said. “I’m sure we’re going to face some more adversity with our tough conference schedule coming up and with targets on our back for that.”
UMass will begin its A-10 play on Friday, April 4, when it hosts LaSalle at McGuirk Stadium.
Anthony Chiusano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can be followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.