Minutewomen look to snap three-game skid

By Melissa Turtinen, Collegian Staff

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P.J. Stanley/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will play No. 13 Dartmouth this afternoon in Hanover, N.H., for its first away game of the season. The first game on the road isn’t fazing the Minutewomen. They were fortunate enough to have games on the road last fall and also traveled to Florida last month. They are excited to have the opportunity to play – they don’t care where, according to UMass coach Alexis Venechanos.

Today’s game against Dartmouth (2-1) is another addition to UMass’s difficult schedule. Last year the Minutewomen lost to the Big Green, 11-5. In the all-time series Dartmouth is up, with a record of 19-8. The last time the Minutewomen defeated the Big Green was in 1998 – since then they have had 11 straight losses. “Dartmouth is one of the top teams in the area, if not the top,” said Venechanos. “We’re looking forward to that challenge, and as a team, we rise to challenges.” Dartmouth has a strong defense, disciplined team on attack and is very aggressive with the ball. They are very successful when it comes to working well together as a team, and that will make the game even more difficult for the Minutewomen. UMass (1-3) has been struggling getting wins on the board. They are currently stuck in a three-game losing streak. Most recently was a 20-11 loss to Harvard on Saturday. Although the Minutewomen were unable to beat the Crimson, they did outshoot them, 41-32. “Looking from the last four games we have a lot to improve on, and that’s a good thing,” said Venechanos. “We have been doing the same things inconsistently.” The Maroon and White have had a tough early schedule, but it has helped them improve and know what they need to work on. The Minutewomen have learned their roles on and off the field and are growing with their team and their system.

“Playing weaker competition [early on] would have been like fool’s gold on how we’re doing,” said Venechanos. The losses have had “bright spots,” according to Venechanos. The Minutewomen have learned a lot about themselves since the start of the season. They have been getting good opportunities and learning from the mistakes they have been making. In the Harvard game they got over 40 shots, which is one of the only times in program history. They have had chances to put themselves in good positions, but other times hav made bad decisions, according to Venechanos. They need to continue taking care of the ball, taking good shots and making good decisions while remaining disciplined. Lately, the Minutewomen have had trouble being a little too aggressive and being called for fouls, causing them to play down a player for 10 minutes last Saturday. During practices they have worked on how to control themselves a little better. “I like us being aggressive; unfortunately, when you play aggressive, there are tendencies to foul,” said Venechanos. They are going into today’s game knowing they need to play to their own strengths and weaknesses instead of the other way around. Combining all of this, they are hoping to have better success with Dartmouth than they have in the past.

“We’re just happy to have another game to play UMass lacrosse,” said Venechanos.

Melissa Turtinen can be reached at [email protected]