Minutewomen attaining balanced attack under McMahon

By Nick Bellofatto

After a tough loss to No. 15 Albany, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team stormed back this past Tuesday with an impressive 23-7 win over Marist University. The 23 goals the team posted were the second most goals scored in a game in school history. As impressive as that stat line may be, it is just as significant that 13 different Minutewomen players tallied goals in the win against the Red Foxes.

The notion of a full team effort has been something that UMass coach Angela McMahon has been talking about all season as part of a healthy balance. Last year, Jackie Lyons was the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and led the team in both goals (49) and assists (20) for a team-high 69 points. However, this year Lyons has been granted a great deal of help, especially from underclassmen that have really begun to produce, allowing her to act as both a scorer and a facilitator.

“I think it is a couple different things, I would say the freshmen are definitely stepping up and having an impact for us and obviously Katie Ferris on the offensive end is really filling a huge gap for us in terms of having a big scorer in addition to Jackie,” said McMahon.

Even though Lyons does not lead the team in goals, she does lead the team in points, with her 16 goals and 14 assists totaling 30 points.

After being out for the first two games with a knee injury, Ferris has exploded onto the scene, posting a team-high 20 goals in only six games played. However, it’s not just Ferris or Lyons who are getting the job done, it’s also Jesse O’Donnell, Haley Smith, Nina Sarcona, Sam Rush and Danielle Pelletier who have all recorded double-digit goals through the first eight games of the season.

“I think our attackers are just really stepping up their game in terms of managing the game and reading different situations and what the defense is giving us, and then acting accordingly,” said McMahon.

This recent increase in production from many different players has not come as much of a surprise to McMahon, as she had her hand in a great deal of recruiting that went on for this year’s team. She wanted to have a balanced midfield line that was able to play multiple positions and in doing so, it would take some of the pressure off of all the players.

“I think now we are just sort of letting them play and we are not micro-managing them too much and we are letting them do what they are good at,” said McMahon. “I think that has taken a little pressure off, and they are just out there having fun, moving the ball around and getting as many different people involved as possible.”

This type of balance does not come easy, especially with a proven star like Lyons and a breakout rookie like Ferris, but that is simply not the case with the Minutewomen and their attack this year. The full team effort that McMahon has been preaching is setting in and the more players buy into this idea, the more complete they will become as a team.

“Everyone that steps onto that offensive zone are doing a great job of just being a threat at all times, but more importantly they want to set up their teammates and are so happy when their teammates score,” said McMahon. “They are doing whatever they can to be successful as a unit.”

Facing No. 2 Northwestern on March 26, the Minutewomen must use their balanced attack if they want to defeat McMahon’s alma mater.

Nicholas Bellofatto can be reached at [email protected]