Minutewomen ride balanced attack into matchup against Albany

By Patrick Strohecker

Cade Belisle/Collegian

If there has been one consistency to the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team’s season, it has been its balanced scoring.

The No. 17 Minutewomen (4-2) have opened up their season averaging 15.17 goals per game, which ties them for 12th in the country. The balanced attack came together last Saturday, when UMass defeated Iona 22-6.

“I thought it was one of the more complete games that we’ve had, just in terms of playing for the full 60 minutes, not having any letdowns,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “And I think at each end of the field we played very well and executed very well in terms of what our game plan was.”

While the scoring pace has dropped since last year’s team’s pace, which led the nation in scoring, the Minutewomen’s offensive balance has picked up. Junior attacker Katie Ferris was expected to continue her scoring prowess this year after racking up 98 points in her sophomore year. However, the team’s supporting cast has left the biggest impression on McMahon.

“One of the big things that we have been working on has been our attack unit working together, working off ball and having more assisted goals than necessarily 1-v-1 isolation goals,” McMahon said.

With Ferris out of the lineup last Saturday, Lauren Terracciano, Cori Murray and Sam Rush all had career days in scoring, with Terracciano notching eight points, followed by Murray and Rush accumulating six points in the game. All three players have increased their points per game average from last season and rank in the top four on the team in scoring, trailing only Ferris.

Currently, UMass has 19 different players that have contributed with a goal this season.

While the top four scorers have all played the most important roles in the Minutewomen’s attack this season, sophomore Ellie Bullitt has made a case for more playing time. Bullitt ranks seventh on the team in scoring, but she registered a goal and two assists in her first start this season, replacing Ferris at attack. Her play early in the season and versatility has earned her high marks from McMahon.

“She has great vision on the field,” McMahon said. “She made some really nice passes and assists, which is something that I think we needed for our team offense.”

After missing one game due to an undisclosed injury, McMahon said Ferris is projected to be back in the lineup for UMass today and just in time for its tough matchup against Albany.

The Great Danes (2-1) have posed a threat in the past for the Minutewomen, including last year’s overtime thriller that saw UMass escape on the road with a 12-11 victory. Albany has won its last two games, after starting the season off with a 17-7 loss to then No. 3 Florida.

The Great Danes have scored 41 goals in their first three games, making today’s matchup one that UMass knows it cannot overlook.

“Albany is an extremely tough opponent,” McMahon said. “They really play well as a team, both offensively and defensively. So we’re going to have to be more disciplined, especially when it comes to taking care of the ball. It’s been a big point of emphasis for us, where in some games we’ve had too many turnovers and (were) a little careless with the ball, we cannot afford to do that against Albany.”

Today’s game will take place at McGuirk Stadium and is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

Patrick Strohecker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @MDC_Strohecker.