Rush’s final second OT goal lifts UMass women’s lax past Albany

By Peter Cappiello

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

In the dying seconds of overtime, junior attack Katie Ferris took a leap of faith.

With the game tied at eight and being pressured by Albany defenders, Ferris threw the ball high in the air from behind the left side of the net and watched as junior attack Sam Rush jumped up to swat the pass downwards into the twine for the go-ahead goal with one second showing on the scoreboard.

The No. 17 Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team’s 9-8 overtime victory over the Great Danes (2-2) on Friday at McGuirk Stadium was the second time UMass (5-2) went to the extra frame this season, the first being an away loss by the same score against Boston University on Feb. 27.

UMass coach Angela McMahon expected a close game, based on previous encounters with Albany, but said her team’s win against a well-coached and well-balanced group is huge.

“The girls worked really hard for this,” McMahon said. “It was a battle, back and forth, I think both teams really wanted it, but ultimately it came down to the last possession, last shot and we were fortunate to be on the winning side of that.”

After Albany’s Rachel Bowles netted the equalizer, both sides went blank for the final 12 minutes, 41 seconds to send the game into overtime. The Minutewomen held the Great Danes without a shot during that stretch while UMass only mustered one, and Ferris praised the defense for keeping the team in the game.

“When we’re not making shots, it puts more pressure on our defense and they stepped up and did a great job today,” Ferris said. “They really won that game for us. It wasn’t that last shot, it was the defense the whole entire game.”

After sitting out against Iona due to an injury sustained against the Terriers, it only took Ferris 41 seconds to rediscover her scoring touch, as she notched the first goal of the afternoon before Rush added a tally 32 seconds later to give the Minutewomen an early 2-0 lead. Both goals were assisted by senior attack Cori Murray.

The Great Danes answered UMass on the score sheet, trading goals while cutting the deficit to one on three separate occasions before junior goalkeeper Anna Berman’s save on Rush’s golden open net opportunity tipped the momentum in Albany’s favor.

With Albany trailing 4-2, junior midfielder Allie Phelan and senior attack Rachael Burek tied the game at four and redshirt freshman midfielder Rachel Bowles’ score sent the Great Danes into the break with a 5-4 lead.

After senior attack Jess Antelmi extended Albany’s lead to two, the second frame mimicked the first with momentum swings, capped by Bowles’ ninth goal of the season, knotting the score at eight with less than 13 minutes left in regulation.

Rush said that despite a long and taxing battle, for her, the win was a long time coming.

Aside from their scoring drought, Berman’s play also haunted the Minutewomen, outdueling sophomore Rachel Vallarelli in net to tally eight saves, with some coming in critical moments in the contest.

Rush said that Berman’s play was particularly frustrating because of the effect it had on Albany.

“That really annoys us, we don’t like it when the other team gets more pumped up than we do,” Rush said. “We work hard to shift the momentum back in our direction.”

McMahon said to prevent offensive droughts against prime goaltending, her team needs to think creatively on the attack.

“Their goalie played great, she made some key saves,” McMahon said. “But it was more us needing to adjust on our shooting, make some changes, throw in fakes and take some low shots. I think we probably could’ve capitalized a little bit better, so that’s gonna be something we try to work on going forwards.”

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