Snow, Sacred Heart unable to slow Minutewomen

By Patrick Strohecker

Even Mother Nature could not slow down the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team on Saturday afternoon.

The Minutwomen (7-2) withstood heavy snowfall en route to a 21-8 victory at Sacred Heart and extended their winning streak to four games.

“I don’t think we were affected by (the weather),” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “I think the one thing we learned early on was that we had to tighten up our passes and make shorter passes.”

The Minutewomen scored nine times in the opening 19 minutes, 35 seconds to open up a 9-0 lead, before surrendering their first goal of the game to the Pioneers (0-5) with just over nine and a half minutes left in the first half to stop the run.

“It was definitely great,” McMahon said. “Within that time span, it was a lot of different people stepping up and scoring, which always sets the tone for us, in terms for getting a lot of people involved. Our energy and our intensity picks up when different people are contributing.”

Leading the way offensively for UMass was senior attacker Cori Murray with four goals. She was one of seven Minutewomen to register multiple points in the game.

Following Sacred Heart’s first goal, UMass responded by scoring three more unanswered goals and got a running clock for the rest of the half. But a combination of the Minutewomen sitting back and the Pioneers going for broke in the final minutes of the half led to two more Sacred Heart goals, bringing the halftime lead back to 12-3.

“I think it was a combination of getting comfortable and the other team getting their back put up against the wall,” McMahon said. “They do have some good players that finally said ‘hey, we’re in a hole, so we’re going to just go hard.’”

Much like they opened up the game, the Minutewomen came out hot to start the second half, scoring three of the first four goals in the opening 10 minutes. With the game well in hand, McMahon began emptying the bench, getting some of the younger players a chance to shine.

“I think every single person on our team works so hard in practice,” McMahon said, “and to be able to reward people that are working really hard with playing time and seeing their hard work paying off in practice and seeing it in games and actually getting results in terms of good things. … I think it helps the whole energy and intensity for the whole team.”

Sophomore goalie Rachel Vallarelli stopped the only three shots she faced in 19:36 minutes of playing time before giving way to sophomore Jamie Schiloski and freshman Meaghan Kollmeier for the remainder of the game.

With only one game remaining before the Minutewomen begin their conference schedule, everything seems to be coming together for McMahon’s team.

“I think the past couple games, especially, we’ve been executing much better on offense,” McMahon said,“especially rebounding from the Albany game. … I’ve seen a drastic improvement in the past two games in our shooting and our execution and just making the most out of our opportunities.”

UMass is back in action on Wednesday at Holy Cross, where it closes out non-conference play. The game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.

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