Women’s lacrosse to play 3 games over break

By Cameron McDonough

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Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

While students are on spring break, the No. 18 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team will be hard at work playing three games in the span of a week.

This stretch of games begins with the Minutewomen’s toughest test of the year: They will have to travel to No.1 Northwestern on Saturday.

Northwestern (6-0) has won seven of the last eight NCAA championships including last year’s title and is ranked No. 1 for the 62nd time in the last 88 ranking periods.

The Wildcats and Minutewomen (7-0) have met 11 times in the history of the program and Northwestern holds the series lead 10-1 having won every one of the last 10 meetings.

The two teams faced each other last year at McGuirk Stadium, but the home field advantage did little for the Minutewomen as the Wildcats dominated the game en route to a 17-7 win.

Northwestern has a group of four players that are especially dangerous on offense. The Wildcats’ leading scorer is Shannon Smith, who has 18 goals, six assists, and 24 points. Erin Fitzgerald, Casey Bocklet and Kara Mupo round out the attack and are all in double digits in points.

Offensively the numbers aren’t particularly flashy for Northwestern, but the Wildcats pride themselves on defense.

Northwestern ranks second overall in scoring defense in the nation with an average of six goals allowed per game. Senior goalkeeper Brianne LoManto is the stopper in net for the Wildcats with a goals-against-average is 5.02.

UMass also prides itself on stingy defense. It currently ranks 11th in scoring defense.

The Minutewomen’s strength has been offensive play, but the squad will need more offensive production than just leading goal scorer Katie Ferris if wants to pull off the upset.

Add in the fact that head coach UMass is coached by Angela McMahon and Sarah Albrecht,  who both played for Northwestern in college, and the game should be an emotionally charged one.

Following that game, UMass’s schedule doesn’t not get any easier. The road trip will continue on Wednesday against No. 20 Albany (4-1).

Last year the two were locked all the way to the end of the game, but the Great Danes came out victorious, 10-8.

When the two meet next Wednesday it will be the culmination of a three game home span for Albany. The Great Danes start that home stretch this Wednesday against No. 12 Boston College.

A trio of players leads the Great Danes on offense. Ariana Parker leads the team with 17 goals and is in a tie with Jess Antelmi in points with 18. Antelmi leads the team in assists with nine. Rounding out the trio is Rachael Burek who has 10 goals and 12 points.

Albany is vulnerable on the defensive end, unlike Northwestern. Its goaltender, Anna Berman, has a goals-against-average of 10.11. Since the Minutewomen have the No. 1 scoring offense in the NCAA, it’s a good bet that UMass will try to stretch the field and get inside for easy goals against a weak defensive unit..

The Minutewomen will return to McGuirk Stadium on Saturday and host Siena (1-6) to close out its spring break.

The two faced each other last year in what turned out to be a blowout win for UMass, 16-7.

As a team, Siena has had trouble scoring goals this season and is only averaging nine goals-per-game. Only seven players have scored this season for the Saints. Their leading scorer is Deirdre McQuillan with 19 goals, five assists and 24 points.

The real problem for Siena, however, has been on the defensive end. Senior goalkeeper Kristin Concordia has a 16.57 goals-against-average on the season.

Cameron McDonough can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at MDC_McDonough.