UMass kicks off A-10 schedule against La Salle

By Peter Cappiello

Cade Belisle/Collegian

Entering Atlantic 10 play, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team might as well have a target painted on its back.

No. 11 UMass (8-2) begins its quest for a record-setting fifth consecutive A-10 Championship in the midst of a five-game winning streak, opening its conference slate against La Salle on Saturday morning in Philadelphia.

With sophomore Morgan Walker recently being named Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week, as well as an offense that’s scored 57 goals in three games, UMass coach Angela McMahon is expecting teams to give their best efforts against the Minutewomen.

“Absolutely, no question,” McMahon said. “We saw (that) last year when we had two of our conference games go into overtime. I expect a lot of teams coming in confident, feeling good, going out there and giving it their best games. We need to do our job, and make sure we’re ready for that.”

As UMass heads into its contest with the Explorers (8-1), memories of a 20-7 Minutewomen victory in Amherst on April 20 are still fresh, especially since players responsible for half of the offensive onslaught remain on the team.

Despite recent history, McMahon said she imagines La Salle is coming into the matchup with confidence due to a successful season as well as an added boost from the buzz surrounding the men’s basketball team, which played in the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament Thursday night.

“Going to play at La Salle is always a pretty tough game for us,” McMahon said. “They are an extremely athletic and hardworking team. I think it’s really important that we stick to our game plan in terms of being really aggressive, focusing on ourselves and making those constant improvements that we’ve been working on all season long.”

 Senior attackman Lauren Terracciano has 10 points on seven goals in her last three outings, and McMahon predicts a good game for the Garden City, N.Y., native.

“When we talk about confidence, I think that she is somebody who’s really peaking right now,” McMahon said. “I think her being a senior, captain and a leader, she’s stepping into that role of someone who wants the ball on her stick, and we feel confident in having it on her stick.”

Terracciano, along with scoring leaders Katie Ferris and Sam Rush, will be paired against La Salle sophomore midfielder Caitlyn Brostrand and senior attack Lauren McDermott.

McMahon called the duo “dynamic” and “explosive,” and took note of the numbers the pair have put up to this point in the season.

“We’re gonna have to play a really good team defense,” McMahon said. “It’s not going to be one of our players shutting theirs down — it will be everyone helping everybody and making sure we play as a team to limit their opportunities and force them into low angle shots.”

After limiting an offensively charged Holy Cross team to five goals on March 20, McMahon said Walker and defenders Kelsey McGovern, Kelsey Sheridan and Kelsey Palmer have been shining on the back end of the field.

“I think our four low defenders are doing outstanding,” McMahon said. “Their defensive play is creating the energy and excitement. (It’s) giving us the opportunity to have the ball when they make the turnovers or force bad shots to go the other way.”

 Moving ahead to conference play, McMahon said performing well in the A-10s and on the national stage is a pride and tradition that UMass has, which she wants to continue regardless of the opponent.

“They have a lot going for them right now and we’re going to expect a battle,” she said.               

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