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May 8, 2017

Callie Santos scores overtime game-winner to lead UMass women’s lacrosse over Connecticut

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team didn’t do itself any favors Sunday afternoon at Garber Field.

After compiling a 7-4 lead at halftime against Connecticut, UMass (2-3) surrendered five of the next six goals in the second half to UConn, giving the Huskies a 9-8 lead with five minutes, 21 seconds remaining after the Minutewomen had led by as many as five goals.

With time ticking down on the clock in regulation, Minutewomen redshirt junior attacker Hannah Burnett received a great pass from senior midfielder Hannah Murphy, and in one motion, unleashed a dart past UConn goalkeeper Grace Beshlian to tie the game at nine.

The matchup would need extra time and in the overtime period senior attacker Callie Santos cut right in front of the Huskie crease and took a feed from Murphy to give UMass a dramatic 10-9 win on a cold day in Amherst.

“It’s exciting, it was a complete team effort today,” Santos said. “We worked really hard in the first half and we had a lot of opportunities so I’m really happy that I was able to get the ball in the net.”

Burnett said that Santos’ game-winner was only a microcosm of how UMass played as a unit.

“Honestly it was a total team effort,” Burnett said. “I think we came together in overtime and it was a huge win for us … we really needed that. It’s at a pivotal point in our season and I think that we’re really turning it around. It was a total group effort; everybody came to play today.”

Burnett had an impressive outing for the Minutewomen notching a team-high four goals in the emotional victory against UConn (2-3).

“I think the feeds were there,” Burnett said about her success in the offensive zone. “I think everyone was doing a great job of getting the ball in the right place and I was just there to put it away.”

Other standouts included Murphy (one goal, two assists) and Santos (two goals, one assist) with six different Minutewomen recording goals.

“That’s a huge goal and focus for us moving forward throughout the season,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said about the number of players scoring of offense. “Really glad to see Hannah Burnett get going today, and some different players getting involved. I think that’s crucial to our success moving forward so that we can be more dynamic.”

The first half was a dominant one for the Minutewomen as they controlled the pace of play for the majority of the half. With the Huskies leading 2-1 halfway through the first half, the Minutewomen potted the next six in a 3:48 span to make it 7-2, which ended up being the biggest lead of the afternoon for UMass. UConn would score twice more before the halftime buzzer sounded to cut the lead to 7-4.

The Minutewomen held a clear advantage in draw controls after 30 minutes, leading the Huskies 10-6 in that category.  Shots also favored UMass by a 16-10 margin in that one as well as free-position shots, where the Minutewomen were a perfect 2-for-2. UConn came out in the second half and took it straight at UMass for almost the entire 30-minute stretch. The Huskies were relentless in their ball-hawking defense, not letting the Minutewomen get comfortable in the offensive zone, and that attitude paid off as UConn eventually took a 9-8 lead with 5:12 remaining before Burnett tied the game at 3:39.

In overtime, UMass started a player down after senior Sarah Crowley was given a yellow card with one second remaining in regulation. Despite that, the Minutewomen killed off the penalty, and freshman goalkeeper Lauren Hiller had a huge say in that by making a couple key saves, one on a free-position shot, to keep UMass’ hopes alive.

“Absolutely, it’s huge,” Burnett said when asked if this is a type of game they can use to build off of. “I think we’re going to use this momentum going forward. We needed this win, it was awesome and Callie came through for us in the end.”

Hiller finished the contest with 10 saves while Beshlian who also had a high-quality game in cage for the Huskies, made 13.

“It’s great to get a win,” McMahon said “We have some really quality New England rival opponents coming up that we need to make sure we’re continuing to get better each and every day in practice because they are really tough teams.

“Moving forward as we get close to conference [play] we want to start peaking at that point,” McMahon added. “We got a lot of work to do and [some] cleaning up [of] some things over the week.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at rames@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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