With a six-game road stint ahead on the schedule, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team couldn’t afford to head into spring break without snapping its losing streak.
UMass did just that by defeating Yale 9-5 at McGuirk Stadium on a sunny Wednesday afternoon. The loss for the Bulldogs drops them to 1-3, while the Minutewomen move to 3-4 on the season. The win for UMass also ends a three-game losing streak it suffered against New Hampshire, Harvard and Boston University during its four-game home stand.
“Going into this game, we practiced really hard this week,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said. “We really focused on ball possession, and I’m really proud, this was a very solid win against a very solid team.”
The Minutewomen opened the game controlling the possession for nearly four minutes in an attempt to break their recent scoring inconsistencies. Both of UMass’ shots, however, would be deflected, as the Bulldogs went on the attack.
The Yale offense was quick with its possession and drew first blood, as Jessica Sturgill made it 1-0 at the 25 minute, 33 second mark. Not wanting to get into a hole, the Minutewomen responded with three goals over the next five minutes.
Sophomore Nina Sarcona evened the game and gave UMass the 2-1 lead with a pair of scores for her 4th and 5th goals of the season. Sophomore Jesse O’Donnell then tacked on a third goal for the Minutewomen for her team-leading 15th goal of the year.
Scoring subsided for most of the remainder of the half, as both team defenses slowed down scoring opportunities. With less than two minutes left though, Yale closed the deficit to one, as Sturgill circled around the UMass net before putting in her second goal of the game.
In a last-gasp effort before the end of the half, O’Donnell answered with her second goal of the game to put the Minutewomen back up by two heading into intermission.
The first half marked the lowest combined scoring half for UMass this season, while matching the six combined goals for the Bulldogs in their games against James Madison and Holy Cross.
In the start of the second half, the Minutewomen once again patiently held possession, but were kept from extending their lead, as the Yale defense held strong. The Bulldogs’ attack then struck swiftly, as Kaitlyn Flatley scored her third goal of the spring at the 26:41 mark to make it a 4-3 game.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the game, Sturgill and O’Donnell exchanged goals to give both players a hat trick. Sturgill first scored to tie the score at four before O’Donnell regained the lead for UMass.
Yale tied the game again at the 10:15 mark on free-position goal by Devon Rhodes, only to see the Minutewomen go back ahead on a Jackie Lyons score 39 seconds later. The goal for Lyons was the junior’s 11th of the season, placing her second on the team behind O’Donnell.
Not finished for the contest, O’Donnell put in her fourth goal to extend UMass’ lead to 7-5, before Lyons added an insurance goal four minutes later to put the Minutewomen up by three with 3:31 left to play.
UMass scored for the ninth and final time with 29 seconds remaining, as Sarcona put in her third goal to join O’Donnell with a hat trick.
“It feels really good and we worked really hard,” O’Donnell said afterwards. “It’s wasn’t just my goals, it was a team effort.”
The Minutewomen next head on the road for six games, beginning this weekend when they travel to face Stony Brook.
Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected]