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May 4, 2017

Women’s lacrosse defeats Richmond 10-6 to win sixth straight A-10 Championship

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Katie Ferris had been saying it all year: She and the other seniors did not want to be the class to lose an Atlantic 10 Conference game.

Since her freshman year, Ferris and the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team had been perfect, going 21-0 in the last three years in regular season conference play and winning the conference championship every year, putting a lot of pressure on the team to deliver once again this year.

On Sunday, Ferris and the No. 13 ranked Minutewomen delivered indeed, defeating Richmond 10-6 to claim the team’s sixth straight A-10 championship while remaining undefeated (40-0) in league play over the last four seasons.

“That was a huge goal for us,” Ferris said. “And today we really went out there and did it.”

Richmond got out to a quick start in the game, scoring two unanswered goals in the first five minutes. The two teams went back and forth for a bit after that, but Richmond maintained its lead for most of the first half.

But then, trailing 4-2 with 13:30 left to go in the half, UMass got a 3-0 run going to tie the game and take a 5-4 lead going into halftime.

Coach Angela McMahon said early luck on the draw controls helped the Spiders (11-7) take the early lead, while success on later draw controls in the half helped the Minutewomen (18-1) turn things around.

“Once we got those early game jitters out of us, we really buckled down and were able to come up with those ground balls and draw controls that were then giving our attack opportunities to score,” she said.

UMass kept its momentum going in the second half, scoring two unanswered goals to open the half and extend its lead while holding Richmond to just two goals through the rest of the game.

The defense really stepped up for the Minutewomen, holding the Spiders to just three shots on goal out of six shot attempts in the second half while allowing eight successful clears out of 14 attempts throughout the game.

“(The defensive players) were relentless,” McMahon said. “They were scooping up any loose balls, they were forcing (Richmond’s) attackers into tough angles, having them make rushed decisions, and they were just absolutely relentless all over the field.”

On offense, UMass was led by Ferris, who finished with two goals and four assists, bringing her season assist total to 41 and breaking her own single-season assist record of 39 from 2012. She also brought her career point total to 330, making her the 15th ranked player for all-time points in NCAA history.

After finishing with nine points throughout the tournament weekend, Ferris was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.

“I was really happy with it,” Ferris said. “We’ve been working on different scenarios the past few games and they finally all came together today and I was able to do well.”

The Minutewomen were also led by Melissa Carelli, who finished with a hat trick, and Sam Rush added two goals of her own to tie her single-season goal record of 65.

Having clinched the Atlantic 10 crown, UMass has earned an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. The schedule for the tournament will be announced Sunday night at 9 p.m. at the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Selection Show in Indianapolis.

Coming off a 2013 season where the team got past the first round for the first time since 1984, there are very high expectations for how far the team will go this year.

McMahon insists the team is taking things one game at a time, but Ferris said they’re aiming high this year.

“One of our next goals is to make it to the Final Four,” she said. “So hopefully, you can expect that.”

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

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