March 1, 2015

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No. 11 UMass women’s lacrosse overcomes early deficit to top La Salle in conference opener

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

After going undefeated in conference play the last three years, it was easy to expect the No. 11 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team to dominate their first Atlantic 10 game from start to finish.

But less than four minutes into their game against La Salle on Friday, the Minutewomen were facing a rare 2-0 deficit after the Explorers scored two quick goals to open the game.

UMass’ troubles were short-lived, though.

After calling a timeout, the Minutewomen scored seven of the game’s next eight goals en route to a 19-10 victory to open conference play.

UMass (10-1, 1-0 A-10) scored two quick goals out of the timeout to tie the score. La Salle (6-4, 0-1 A-10) answered to retake the lead, but UMass responded with five unanswered goals in a span of two and a half minutes to take a comfortable 7-3 lead.

UMass coach Angela McMahon said the team lacked focus in the opening minutes and credited the quick turnaround to winning some key possessions at the right time.

“I think that was winning a couple draws and also creating some turnovers on our ride, getting the ball back,” she said. “We talk about our offense being our first line of defense and I think they did a pretty good job of that in terms of getting the ball right back so we had more opportunities to score.”

The Minutewomen were led offensively by Sam Rush, who finished the game with a season-high six goals.

Eight different players scored for UMass. Tanner Guarino and Melissa Carelli finished with hat tricks, Katie Ferris and Rory Sadoff each had a pair of goals and Erika Eipp added a goal and three assists.

“That was one of our goals today, to have a lot of people scoring,” Rush said. “I’m glad that a lot of people got to score in the game. A lot of people came off the bench and did really well, and that’s really important to have depth, especially in later games.”

The Explorers’ 10 goals tied for the most scored on UMass this season. They were led by four goals from Katelyn Fay’s four goals and Toni Massetti’s three.

“They’re an aggressive team,” McMahon said. “They weren’t backing down at all. They were really aggressive to cage and they showed a lot of fire and they’re definitely a tough team.”

La Salle also won the face-off battle, 18-13.

“We kind of didn’t do great on draws today, which is something that we normally do well,” McMahon said. “So going to have to kind of get back to working hard and making sure that everybody around that draw area is really working hard to get that ball.”

As the Minutewomen get ready for their next game Sunday at noon against Saint Joseph’s, McMahon said her players need to get better playing as a team and communicating, especially on defense, so that they don’t get in holes early on.

“Not having those lulls of letting in two goals and then having to rely on going on a run, because in some situations we’re not going to necessarily have that opportunity,” she said.

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

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