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May 4, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse rides winning streak into A-10 conference play

Katherine Mayo/Collegian

With its first winning streak of the 2017 season under its belt, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will put another, more impressive streak on the line when it kicks off Atlantic 10 play this Thursday against Virginia Commonwealth at Garber Field.

Currently riding a four-game winning streak, the Minutewomen will look to extend their streak of A-10 wins, which dates back almost seven full years. UMass, including conference tournaments, has won 45 consecutive conference games, with its last loss coming April 18, 2010 against La Salle.

But rather than looking ahead to the end of the season, UMass (5-3) continues to take things one game at a time.

The Minutewomen have achieved the momentum they had hoped for heading into conference play by going unbeaten in their last four games. Since their 17-8 loss against Syracuse Feb. 25, the offense has finally found its rhythm, netting 49 total goals during that span.

“It’s definitely nice to be winning,” McMahon said. “I’m happy and pleased with the fact that I think we have a lot of different people stepping up and making plays.”

But if UMass wants to come out with a victory against the Rams, its defense will be the ones who need to step up.

Currently, the Minutewomen rank second in the A-10 in caused turnovers, averaging 11.88 per game. Senior Sarah Crowley leads the team in that category with 21 this season, including six (tying a single-game school record) in its most recent win over Marist last Saturday.

VCU (4-4) is an offensive powerhouse, averaging 12.38 goals per game and 99 total on the season. In their most recent win over Liberty, the Rams were tied at six going into halftime. They then outscored Liberty 15-6 in the second half en route to a 21-12 win.

The 21 goals scored is tied for a program-high, and was the third time VCU has reached that mark, as the program is just in its second season.

“Our biggest preparation is learning from [the game against] Marist. Asking ‘how are we going to get better?”’ McMahon said. “With each and every game that we play we want to just focus on being better than the last.”

Keriann McTavish scored a game-high six goals on just eight total shots for the Rams in their win over the Flames. The six-goal, two-assist performance catapulted her as the team’s point leader, bringing her total to 27 on the season.

“Our defense has been consistently playing well, our goalie [Lauren Hiller] is also playing well and we’re using a lot of people on our bench,” McMahon said. “All those things show that we’re hitting our stride in those areas at the right time.”

The Minutewomen continue to emphasize their defensive game, with an emphasis on caused turnovers. Crowley ranks third in that category in the conference, and leads UMass with 2.62 per game. The senior was also recently named UMass student-athlete of the week for March 20-26.

The Rams are not far behind, ranking third in the A-10 in caused turnovers. Sky Hyatt leads her team in that category, averaging 2.38 per game. The redshirt-sophomore also leads her team in draw controls (16) and ground balls (22).

“We’ve really been working on our fast play and holding the ball for at least two seconds,” Crowley said. “Just having everyone touch it and be involved with each other.”

The game against VCU is set for 5 p.m. Thursday, followed by a 1 p.m. start Sunday against Saint Joseph’s.

Mollie Walker can be reached at molliewalker@umass.edu, and followed on Twitter at MWalker2019.

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