Minutewoman begin Atlantic 10 play

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian staff

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Photo by P.J. Stanley, Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team starts its conference schedule this weekend with two games on the road, taking on Richmond Friday and George Washington Sunday.

UMass enters their Atlantic 10 schedule with a non-conference record of 2-7.

“We’re further along this year than last year at this time, even though our record last year was better,” said UMass coach Alexis Venechanos.

The Minutewomen had one of the toughest preseason schedules in the nation; they faced four Top 20 teams in their first seven games.

“We’ve had glimpses of great play, but now we need to put all those glimpses into one great game,” she said.

The brutal schedule taught the Minutewomen a great deal about themselves and what it takes to compete with some of the nation’s best teams.

Friday’s game against the Spiders won’t bring any relief from the competitive schedule the Minutewomen have been facing. Richmond is three-time defending A-10 Champions and have a very strong team on attack.

When UMass took on Richmond last year they lost, 10-4, at home. In the overall series between the two teams Richmond is ahead 7-2 with the Minutewomen’s last win in 2003.

On Sunday UMass expects another tight matchup; GW is the A-10 regular-season defending co-champion.

“GW has a great goaltender,” said Venechanos. “They have a great core back, we need to play our team game, defend hard and play really aggressive. Those are our strengths.”

UMass has played GW the least amount of times compared to every other A-10 team. In the series between the Colonials and the Minutewomen they are tied 3-3. The last time UMass won was in 2006 with an 11-10 victory to qualify them for the A-10 Tournament.

Venechanos hopes the team improves on their midfield play this weekend while still continuing to do well scoring goals.

“Defensively we’re playing as a unit instead of relying on individuals like in the past,” said Venechanos. “Having this going for us is letting us play a lot better.”

The Minutewomen’s scoring opportunities have also increased, which will help them a lot this weekend.

Leading the Minutewomen in goals is junior midfield Kaytlin McCormick. This season she has scored 18 goals with four assists. Senior attack Melynda Zwick has the second-most points with five goals and eight assists followed by senior attack, and last year’s leading scorer, Kathleen Typadis, with nine goals and one assist.

“We’ve been giving more dynamic attacks and putting goals we usually don’t score away,” Venechanos said. “We hope to give Richmond and George Washington different looks on attack and defense.”

Also excelling this season has been freshman goaltender Colleen Speth, who has started the last five games for the Minutewomen. Speth was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week after the Boston College win; it was Speth’s first collegiate win. She made nine saves.

“[This weekend] should be a good opportunity for us to have some fun,” Venechanos said.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]