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Strong second half lifts UMass women’s lacrosse past Marist, 10-7

Sarah Crowley (7) passes the ball to a teammate during Saturday’s game against Marist. (Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team chalked up its fourth straight victory with a hard-fought 10-7 win over Marist College Saturday afternoon at Garber Field.

The Minutewomen (5-3) outshot the Red Foxes (4-5) 35-18, and held their opponent scoreless for the game’s final 19 minutes while overcoming an early second half deficit. Junior midfielder Abby Walker recorded her first career hat-trick, while senior Sarah Crowley tied a UMass single-game record with six forced turnovers.

“Marist came out ready to play, and had a great game plan,” Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon told the UMass Sports Network. “I thought that we struggled to get going offensively, and shooting-wise, their goalie made a lot of saves. The ability for us to get some caused turnovers and have more offensive possessions definitely helped.

UMass Freshman Kaitlyn Cerasi opened the scoring with a goal just 90 seconds into the game, which was followed by three more Minutewomen goals. Marist then went on a 4-0 run to tie the game going into halftime.

UMass lost captain Hannah Murphy late in the first half to her second yellow card, and were down a player to begin the second half. Junior Holly Turner broke the tie a minute into the half, but the Red Foxes strung together three consecutive goals to take a 7-5 lead with just under 20 minutes left.

Then Crowley and the rest of the Minutewomen defense found their stride.

“Any time we make a play defensively, Sarah [Crowley] always seems to be around the ball,” McMahon told the UMass Sports Network. “Her stick sort of has a magnet for the ball, and she anticipates and reads plays really well. And it puts us in a much better position to score goals the harder we ride, so I’m definitely happy in terms of our riding effort.”

The Minutewomen defense battered the Red Foxes on clears, allowing Marist to convert just 13 of its 24 of their attempts. They kept Marist from scoring on four of its five man-up opportunities, and won 26 groundballs to nine for the Red Foxes.

All around efficiency allowed UMass to come back late in the game. The Minutewomen won eight out of 10 draw controls in the second half, and were a perfect 16 of 16 on attempted clears.

Besides career days from Walker and Crowley, UMass was helped out by goals from Hannah Burnett (2), Cerasi, Turner, Cassidy Doster, Murphy and Callie Santos. Goalie Lauren Hiller had eight saves and finished the game with a .533 save percentage.

Doster’s goal with 14:38 left in regulation on an empty-netter making the score 8-7 proved to be the game winner.

“Our backs were against the wall, losing in the second half, but some new people stepped up for us in a lot of big ways,” McMahon told the UMass Sports Network. “I’m happy we had some new faces step up, and hopefully we can put together more complete games going forward.”

After starting the season 0-2, the Minutewomen have won five of their last six, outscoring opponents 49-29 in their last four games (all wins). Marist is the final non-conference regular season opponent UMass will face in 2017.

“I think we’ve been getting better for the most part,” McMahon told the UMass Sports Network. “There are different areas of the field we still need to improve on, and we’re still only halfway through our season, so I like where we’re at, but I still think we have a lot of room to grow.”

The Minuntewomen kick off Atlantic 10 play as they host Virginia Commonwealth on Friday, March 31st at 3 p.m. UMass has not lost a conference game since 2011.

Henry Brechter can be reached at hbrechter@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @HBrechter.

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