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September 21, 2016

No. 13 UMass women’s lacrosse knocks off Duquesne 16-3 to reach Atlantic 10 finals

Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian

Christina Yacono/Daily Collegian

Ten minutes, 32 seconds into the first half of Friday’s Atlantic 10 semifinal matchup between the No. 13 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team and Duquesne, UMass coach Angela McMahon was forced to call a timeout as the Dukes had shrunk the top-seeded Minutewomen’s lead to two scores.

It was the last time she needed to find momentum for her team.

Sophomore Erika Eipp’s goal two minutes later would start an 11-0 run that lasted until the final horn sounded, as the Minutewomen easily eliminated Duquesne, 16-3.

Senior Tanner Guarino led UMass’(17-1, 8-0 A-10) offensive attack with four goals for while senior Sam Rush added three goals (64) to break her own single-season scoring record that she set a year ago.

The Minutewomen opened the game with the first three scores before the Dukes would fight back with a 3-2 run to make it a 5-3 UMass lead halfway through the first half.

From that point forward, the Minutewomen opened up a 10-3 lead heading into halftime before scoring the lone six goals of the second half.

“We just wanted to stop their momentum so we had to make a couple of stops on defense and win the draws,” Guarino said. “We took our time on attack and that helped us find the best scoring options.”

The second half was characterized by patience and ball control for UMass, as victories in ground balls (19-9), draw controls (12-9), and forced turnovers (14-7) allowed the Minutewomen to dominate the time of possession.

“We just really wanted to be patient and make sure we were getting the looks that we wanted,” McMahon said. “Once you get a lead, you are able to dictate the tempo of the game and really be able to look for the best shot possible.”

On defense, UMass did not allow a shot on goal in the second half. For the game, the Minutewomen outshot Duquesne 33-10.

“There wasn’t much defense that needed to be played in the second half, but I think when we did play, we were really smart and were able to lock down their top cutters and work together as a team,” senior Kelsey Sheridan said.

Friday’s matchup was the second straight victory over the Dukes (14-4, 5-3), as UMass defeated Duquesne 16-8 in its regular season finale on April 27.

“Last week’s game was good preparation for (Friday),” Sheridan said. “We figured out what we needed to work on and wanted to do the same thing that worked well last Sunday.”

According to Sheridan, this work included winning the draw control battle, which the Minutewomen were successful in doing. Sheridan finished with a team-leading three faceoff wins on Friday.

UMass will look to claim its sixth straight A-10 title as it takes on Richmond in the conference finals on Sunday. The second-seeded Spiders defeated LaSalle, 8-4, on Friday to clinch a spot in the title game which is being held at their home venue.

Richmond provided the Minutewomen with their toughest conference test of the season on April 19, when UMass won 9-8.

“Richmond is playing great lacrosse right now and they have the homefield advantage,” McMahon said. “We’re just going to have to make sure that we come out with a lot of fire and intensity so we can control the pace of the game like we did (Friday).”

Sunday’s championship game at Robins Stadium will begin at 1 p.m.

Anthony Chiusano can be reached at achiusano@umass.edu and can be followed on Twitter @a_chiusano24.

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