Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Riding momentum, UMass heads to Temple for matchup with Owls

By Jay Asser

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The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team looks to continue its domination of its Atlantic 10 schedule when it travels to face Temple on away-friendly Geasey Field this Saturday.

After dropping five of six games against non-conference opponents, the Minutewomen (5-6, 2-0 A-10) opened up A-10 play with two victories against George Washington and Richmond this past weekend.

“Those were two huge wins, definitely, but we told the girls we’re back to 0-0 and not to get complacent,” UMass coach Alexis Venechanos said. “We’re going into the [Temple] game away and entering like we’ve yet to win in the conference and looking to play hungry.”

On Friday, Jackie Lyons and Jesse O’Donnell each recorded hat tricks to spur UMass past the Colonials (2-9, 0-2 A-10) in a 13-7 win. Despite trailing 6-5 at halftime, the Minutewomen scored six unanswered goals in the final 24 minutes, while the defense forced 12 GWU turnovers in that span.

On Sunday, it was sophomore Nina Sarcona who led the Minutewomen attack with three goals of her own. UMass received scores from eight different players to defeat the Spiders (4-7, 1-1 A-10), 12-8. Goalkeeper Katie Florence earned both wins over the weekend in cage, making eight saves against the Colonials and nine saves against Richmond.

Even though UMass has played more consistently in its conference schedule, Venechanos still wants her team to keep improving.

“We’re working on our connections down the field and we know that’s going to be important because halfway through the season, other teams know you really well,” Venechanos said. “You have to work on the things you’re good at because you can be scouted, and people know your tendencies.”

Temple, meanwhile, enters this weekend’s matchup having played three fewer contests than the Minutewomen. The Owls (3-5, 1-1 A-10) began the season with a slow start, winning just one of their first four games. In their last four, however, Temple has had two victories, including one against conference foe GWU.

Similar to the contest against UMass, the Colonials were tied with the Owls at halftime before being outscored 5-1 in the second half to suffer an 11-7 loss. Sophomores Missy Schweitzer (three goals, one assist) and Stephanie Markunas (two goals, two assists) led the Temple offense with four-point games, while senior goalkeeper Jess Colucci tied her season-high with 11 saves.

The win for the Owls was their third of the season on the road, where they’ve had more success than they’ve had at home on Geasey Field. In home games this spring, Temple is 0-3 and has scored only a total of 24 goals, whereas on the road, it averages over 10 goals a game.

Despite Temple’s home struggles, Venechanos isn’t underestimating the experienced Owls.

“Temple has the same core back from last year, and you can tell they know each other very well,” Venechanos said. “Half of their goals are assisted goals, and usually when that happens, you have teams that are used to each other. They play a team game and that’s harder to scout than individuals.”

Last year was a different story for the Owls, who managed to win only one of their eight games as the away team. One of those losses came at the hands of the Minutewomen, who secured an A-10 playoff spot with their 16-4 win over Temple.

Haley Smith and Lyons each scored four goals to lead the offense, which scored eight goals in both the first and second half. Florence limited the Owls attack, recording 12 saves in goal.

The win for UMass snapped a 12-game losing streak to Temple, and was the first Minutewomen victory against the Owls since a 3-2 overtime win in the 2000 A-10 Championship Game.

“Traditionally, UMass and Temple has been a great game,” Venechanos said. “The game last year is in the past though, and they’re a completely different team and we’re a different team.”

Jay Asser can be reached at [email protected].

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