Minutewomen gain possession, translates into win

By Herb Scribner

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It was a different Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team that took the field Wednesday afternoon to compete against Yale.

The Minutewomen defeated the Bulldogs 9-5 at McGuirk Stadium, ending a three-game losing streak.

“We talked about a lot of our ball possession in attack,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said. “I thought that proved to be the difference. There weren’t many shots in the game, but when we had the opportunity to put them away [we did]. We took the shots we wanted to take.”

The game against the Bulldogs featured a UMass squad that worked on both sides of the pitch. Offensively, UMass jumped out early with a three-goal run within the first ten minutes of play.

The offense was working, as was the defense. Despite letting up a goal four minutes, 27 seconds into the game, the Minutewomen defense kept the score at 3-1 for just under nineteen minutes.

With each Yale possession, a pack of Minutewomen chased after the Bulldogs, wrestling the ball away and maintaining possession.

When Yale broke through the defense, scoring off a thirty-second run, the Minutewomen’s offense turned up the heat, notching a goal with seven seconds to go in the half.

“We kept the ball, we had possession for a long time in the game, and that was our number one game plan: [to have] possession for this game,” said attacker Jesse O’Donnell.

Even with seven seconds remaining, UMass pushed for an advantage, gaining the ball off the draw. The 4-2 score at the break was the lowest halftime score of the spring for UMass.

In the first half, the Minutewomen squad was perfect on its six clears.

“We did a really good job of seeing what they gave to us,” Venechanos said. “The defenders did a good job of bringing the ball in when needed, and then when to distribute. Behind the ball, the attackers did a great job of giving the defenders space to run the ball up and distribute.”

Even the fouling situation was different in the game against the Bulldogs. In the first period, the Minutewomen committed seven fouls. The last time UMass committed seven fouls in the first half was against Holy Cross, which ended in a 15-6 win for the Minutewomen.

“We’re told not to foul, so we followed our game plan,” O’Donnell said.

In three of its four losses thus far, UMass was in double digits for fouling going into the break.

“I think we played a lot safer, and the style of the game didn’t lend itself to that many fouls for us,” Venechanos said.

The second half was more of the same, at least early on. Yale scored two goals in the first two minutes, with the Minutewomen defense left baffled on sloppy play.

UMass took a timeout, returning to its first half form after coming back to play. The offensive tempo was heightened with an O’Donnell score, and the energy was back with the Minutewomen.

Contrary to the recent losses by UMass, the Minutewomen did not allow its opponents to gain a lead. After the Bulldogs scored a goal to knot the game at five apiece, the offensive side of the UMass squad pushed forward and scored three more goals to secure the victory.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected].