Minutewomen look to finish homestand undefeated in finale against UVM

By Peter Cappiello

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team looks to finish off its three-game homestand with a perfect 3-0 record when it welcomes Vermont to McGuirk Stadium on Wednesday.

Cade Belisle/Collegian

UMass (5-2) is coming off a 9-8 overtime win against Albany on a last-second goal by junior attack Sam Rush, though its offense has been on a sharp decline since beginning its homestand against Iona, dropping from 22 to nine goals for.

Coach Angela McMahon said that in order to tilt the scoreline in her team’s favor against a talented and dangerous Catamounts (3-3) team, the Minutewomen have to focus on finishing shots.

“We had the opportunities (last game),” McMahon said. “We took 27, 28 shots and only scored on nine of them. I think if we capitalize a little bit more and take time to put away our shots, we’ll be in a good situation.”

UMass hasn’t lost to Vermont since 1995 and hasn’t lost at home since a 17-7 loss to Northwestern on March 26, 2011.

Taking cues from Friday’s game, McMahon stressed the importance of building momentum through establishing an early energy and enthusiasm. She said statistics and streaks aren’t things that her squad puts much weight in, but they do take pride in defending their home field.

“When we’re playing home games, that’s something that historically we’ve been pretty successful at and that’s something that we want to continue,” McMahon said. “Making sure we’re getting our wins at home, that’s the focus.”

Scoring leader junior attack Katie Ferris, who posted a hat trick in her first game back from injury, powers the Minutewomen’s offense with 28 points on 17 goals and 11 assists. Rush follows closely behind in the goals category, notching 21 on 23 shots.

UMass’ defense, which has held their opposition to under 10 goals in six of seven games this season, faces a trio of Vermont players that have combined for 65 points on the year.

Sophomore Jessica Roach and junior Sydney Mas, who lead the Catamounts with 27 and 23 points each, have been on McMahon’s watch list in preparation for Wednesday’s game.

“I know that one of their top players, Sydney Mas, has had a great career so far,” McMahon said. “She’s a great player, big player, really hard to stop. She was America East Rookie of the Year her freshman year, so she’s pretty dynamic.”

McMahon also said that Roach’s feeds for assists are something to look out for, especially if they’re aimed towards Mas when she’s cutting towards the cage.

With Vermont’s depth, McMahon said unity is essential to keep possession on attack.

“The other girls also have the ability to score, feed and are really talented players,” McMahon said. “Similar to Albany, we’re going to have to make sure that we play as a team because they have a lot of different weapons. It’s not just going to be shutting one person down, it’s gonna be everybody having to be on the same page in helping each other out.”

Playing games with close margins against high caliber teams, McMahon said Vermont, which is coming off a loss after going 2-2 in its last four outings, has a lot to play for.

“I think they’re hungry for a win right now,” McMahon said. “We have to make sure that we’re doing what we’re capable of doing in coming out with intensity and playing for a full 60 minutes. We can’t have any letdowns against a team like this.”

Peter Cappiello can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Cappiello.