Women’s lacrosse looks to tame Terriers

By Jeffrey Okerman

Maria Uminski/Collegian
Maria Uminski/Collegian

This past Saturday in its season opener, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team left the field with a 10-goal victory under its belt. Not a bad way to start off the season.

But later today, the Minutewomen will look to spoil Boston University’s own season opener when they face off at McGuirk Almuni Stadium.

Last season, the Minutewomen (1-0) defeated the Terriers, 13-12, in a traditional game for the first time since 2007. This season, second-year UMass coach Angela McMahon is hoping for a much more comfortable scoreline.

“I hope it isn’t [so close],” said McMahon. “Obviously we would like to have a couple more goals as a cushion, and have a nice lead, but BU is a team that will never give up, and keep working no matter what the score is. It’s definitely going to be a battle for us, and hopefully we can step up and be ready to play.”

A battle it will be. The Terriers (0-0) have been American East champions four of the past five years, and this year they return their top three goal scorers. Leading the pack is junior Danielle Etrasco, who found the net 57 times last season – one more than UMass’ leading scorer last season, Katie Ferris – and will continue to lead the line for BU.

And while midfielder Rachel Collins, who scored three times in last season’s meeting, graduated, Hannah Frey and Molly Swain return. Frey and Swain as a pair were dangerous against the Minutewomen in last season’s clash as they scored three and two goals, respectively. They finished the 2011 season in second and third place, respectively, on the Terriers’ scoring charts.

Also returning for BU is the core of its defensive unit. Like the aforementioned Collins, Kate Cipolletti, who started every game at the back for the Terriers, graduated, but Monica Baumgartner and Brittany Carlin, all don the BU jersey once more.

McMahon said she believes the key to winning will be unlocking a “talented” defense that Cipolletti, Baumgartner and Carlin lead.

“They’re a very well-coached team, a lot of dynamic players, very physical and aggressive,” said McMahon. “They’re a very balanced team, too. We have to make sure that we’re putting our opportunities away. They have some very talented players, and it’s going to come down to team defense, team offense and a collective effort on both sides of the field.”

McMahon said she is confident that her team will be ready to match the energy of an experienced Terriers team.

“I think this is always a game that our girls always get pumped up for,” said McMahon. “These are our local rivals, and the teams we play every single year at the beginning of the season, and it’s always a really close battle. I expect our girls to come fired up, with the intensity and focus to play from the first whistle.”

Leading the line for McMahon’s squad is sophomore Katie Ferris. Having already set the single-season record for goals in her freshman year (56), Ferris picked up where she left off against Holy Cross, netting seven goals and earning three assists.

Now, however, McMahon will be looking to the entire team to lead, rather than having Ferris dominate.

“She’s always going to get her shots and her touches,” said McMahon. “I think there are some other people who stepped up, too, and our goal is to be a balanced attack and have multiple threats, in order to not be a one person attack. [A one person attack] is very easy to defend, and we’re going to look, really, to everyone to step from attackers to midfielders, because that is the type of production we need.”

Despite being in control on the scoreboard, the Minutewomen struggled to keep fouls down against the Crusaders, which allowed them to convert a number of free-position shot opportunities. Improvement in that area will be crucial in keeping the Terriers off the scoresheet for McMahon.

“We’re going to need to fix how much we foul and limit the shot opportunities for BU,” said McMahon. “We’re definitely going to need to clean up our fouls and look to continuing domination of the draw, which is a huge difference maker for us.”

UMass has the potential to go 2-0 on the season, at 3 p.m., at McGuirk Stadium.

“It’s going to be a good day and a good game,” said McMahon.

Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Okerman.