Offensive attack fuels perfect home stand

By Jeffrey Okerman

Maria Uminski/Collegian

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team continued its dominance in McGuirk Stadium on Sunday with a 21-7 win over Sacred Heart. The win was UMass’ fifth straight at home, and it has outscored its opponents 89-38 in those games.

Once again, the Minutewomen (5-0) featured a balanced offensive scoring attack, as 13 different players scored at least one point.

“It was a team effort top to bottom,” said UMass coach Angela McMahon. “It is great for us and our younger players to get adjusted to the pace of the game and scoring. It was a total team effort.”

While the Minutewomen defense has been key in stopping their adversaries, the statistics piling up for the attackers is note-worthy.

They were led by sophomore attacker Katie Ferris, who scored four goals and three assists against Sacred Heart (1-2) to bring her season total to 20 goals and 12 assists. Of the 89 goals this season, 47 have been coupled with an assist.

Stylistically, the system the Minutewomen play is built to rack up assists. UMass generally plays with quick and precise cuts through the circle on offense. Ferris serves as the lynchpin in that offense. She plays from behind the net, which allows her to distribute the ball to teammates as they flash in front of the cage.

“It’s really hard to play, as a goalie, with someone behind the cage,” said McMahon. “That’s why I think playing behind the cage is a good threat back there.”

Ferris isn’t the only weapon from behind the cage, for McMahon. Freshman Ellie Bullitt has been able to fill the space when Ferris leaves her position vacant. Bullitt, who has played in four games, ranks third in assists for the Minutewomen with 7.

“Ellie is a great player, and I’m glad we’re able to get her some reps and get her going a little bit,” said McMahon. “Those are our expectations when we play as a team, that we can put people in there and there is no drop-off.”

The high-powered offense that carried the Minutewomen through the perfect 5-0 home-stand now travels on the road for the first time in 2012 to face Vermont.

Sarcona closing in on record

Senior attacker Nina Sarcona collected seven more draw-controls, to improve her season total to 31 through the first five games.

Sarcona now sits 10 away from the career record of 124, held by former Minutewomen Meghan Reddy.

Sarcona nearly set the single-season draw-control record last season after finishing 15 short of Reddy’s single-season record of 78.

With 31 draws through five games, Sarcona is also on pace to chase the single-season record again, but her main focus is on controlling the possession, rather than just winning the statistic.

“I have some limitations with my hip, so I’m trying to focus on one of my only jobs. I don’t really put up a lot of numbers. It’s not just for my possession but for the team possession.”

McMahon also recognizes that such an achievement doesn’t come without help from teammates.

“It’s a credit to Nina but also everyone around the circle, and boxing out behind the line,” said McMahon.

Having put up nine draw-controls once this season, and seven twice, Sarcona is right on the record’s doorstep.

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