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Matt McCall’s winding path to bring unity to UMass -

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November 16, 2017

Sarah Crowley has emerged as a star for UMass women’s lacrosse

Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is rolling right now. Winners of six straight, UMass (7-3, 2-0 Atlantic 10) has found its stride offensively and then some, scoring 43 goals in its previous two games with redshirt junior Hannah Burnett, who has torched the competition, leading the charge, registering 27 goals since March 5.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Minutewomen have come a long way since their 1-3 start to the season, and a major catalyst in the turnaround has been senior midfielder Sarah Crowley.

The former Harborfields High School standout from Greenlawn, New York has been a revelation on the backend for UMass. Crowley has taken a defensive unit that lost three stud players in Amber Tobin and Kate and Anne Farnham and has become the go-to player for Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon on defense.

“Sarah just has a knack for the ball,” McMahon said. “She tracks the ball, she sees the ball well and she really anticipates plays and makes plays well. I think all of our defenders have different strengths and weaknesses, but for that to be her strength, we need that.”

“She’s been working with these defenders now for a few years that she’s playing with and I think there’s a comfort level there,” McMahon added. “They work really well together and she’s a really great teammate.”

Crowley has been bustling in front of the UMass net lately, causing turnover after turnover, with her best outing coming March 25 against Marist. In the Minutewomen’s 10-7 win, Crowley had six caused turnovers, a season high, combined with six ground balls in what was a back-and-forth affair for UMass.

In the Minutewomen’s most recent game against Saint Joseph’s, Crowley was flying up and down the field, making numerous impressive plays in front of their cage. She finished the game with four caused turnovers and four ground balls, an effort that resulted in being named the Co-Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week.

“As a defensive unit we’ve been going for everything scrappy and that’s what I’ve been focusing on too,” Crowley said. “Everything that hits the ground has to be yours, everything that’s in the air has to be yours. Once it’s in their stick there’s not much you can do about it except go hard. Everything else you just have to be scrappy on.”

That scrappy attitude has been effective for the most part as UMass has only allowed 10 goals or more once since its winning streak commenced, and that was against Saint Joe’s, when it surrendered 14. Caused turnovers have been critical for the success of the Minutewomen, who have tallied 126 total compared to their opponents who have managed just 93.

“We lost a lot but everyone has stepped up,” Crowley said. “We saw it as a rebuilding year in the fall and once the spring hit we saw it has ‘OK this is our team.’ It doesn’t matter what we lost, we can rebuild it ourselves and build our own strong unit.”

As a senior, Crowley has been the stalwart on defense UMass needed and admitted to taking it upon herself to be a leader before the season started.

“Ever since we lost those girls last year, myself, Taylor [Fischer], and Allison [Ryan] have put out our shoulder space and lifted up all the younger girls and make sure they act like they are just as old as we are,” Crowley said. “Everyone just needs to step up especially since we lost a lot of talent but we have a lot of talent to give and to show.”

“She’s getting involved in the offense, which is great because we like getting defense involved in the offense as much as we can,” McMahon said. “She’s constantly picking people apart, reading plays, anticipating, and it’s definitely the best season of play we’ve seen out of her.”

Crowley and the rest of the Minutewomen squad will be back in action Friday when they travel to North Carolina to take on Davidson.

Ryan Ames can be reached at or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

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