UMass tries to reach NCAA tournament against Stanford

By Herb Scribner

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is one victory away from the NCAA tournament.

This Saturday, the Minutewomen (10-9, 5-2 Atlantic 10) will compete against Stanford, champion of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, on the home turf of the Cardinals in the NCAA play-in game. Stanford enters the match off of an 11-0 blanking over Denver.

Both teams are repeating champions in their respective conferences. While the Minutewomen earned their second straight A-10 championship on April 25, the Cardinals recently obtained their sixth-straight MPSF title this past weekend.

The two sides are very similar when it comes to non-conference play, as they both fell to women’s lacrosse powerhouses, Northwestern and Maryland. While Stanford fell to the Wildcats, 18-11, and the Terps, 20-8, UMass also couldn’t catch a break in its matches with 18-6 and 14-4 losses, respectively.

Despite their similarities, this will be the first ever meeting between the Minutewomen and the Cardinals on the lacrosse field.

Last season, UMass earned a berth straight into the NAA tournament where it lost to No. 1 Maryland, 23-6, in the opening round.

Jackie Lyons (46 goals, 19 assists) will lead the UMass offense in this weekend’s match up along with second-leading scorer Jesse O’Donnell (37 goals, nine assists).

The Minutewomen offense will have its hands full against their opponents scoring side, as there are three Cardinals scorers with over 50-points this season. Lauren Schmidt (33 goals, 20 assists), Claire Hubbard (13 goals, 39 assists) and Sarah Flynn (38 goals, 12 assists) top the list of No. 15 Stanford, with Dana Lindsay (39 goals) headlining the squad in goals.

The schedules for both of the squads showed an inconsistent gather of wins and losses. The Cardinals (14-5, 5-1 MPSF)  started the season 1-2 with losses to Syracuse and NU before they regained momentum for a four-game winning streak from Feb. into March.

Two more losses then plagued Stanford, both to the No. 1 Terrapins and Towson. The Cardinals bounced back with three straight wins before losing to the Pioneers on April 11, who they later defeated in the MPSF championship less than a month later.

Since the loss to Denver, Stanford opened up a six-game winning streak, including its playoff victories. During the sweep, the Cardinals put away Oregon, Saint Mary’s, UC Davis, Fresno State, California and the Pioneers.

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Minutewomen will look to end this streak on the home field of the Pioneers.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]