Consecutive one-goal games test toughness of UMass

By Peter Cappiello

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team showed its human side this weekend.

After outscoring its opposition, 108-43, during its last six games heading into Friday’s game against Richmond, UMass (11-2, 3-0 Atlantic 10 Conference) escaped the Spiders (4-9, 1-2 A-10) and George Washington with consecutive one-goal victories.

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

On two separate occasions, the Minutewomen watched their first half efforts be for naught as an 8-3 and 7-3 lead, respectively, vanished after defensive breakdowns.

Coach Angela McMahon said prior to the start of her team’s three-game homestand that she expected a competitive game against the Spiders, who have forged a rivalry with the Minutewomen after close games in the past.

And with players putting extra emotion and energy into the 12-11 double overtime win on Friday, junior attack Katie Ferris said that Sunday’s 10-9 victory over the Colonials (7-5, 2-1 A-10) had a different approach than usual.

“(The Richmond game) tired us out,” Ferris said. “But today was more of a mental game because we were so tired and it showed in the score.”

Ferris, who tied Jackie Lyons’ record for all-time points at UMass with six points against GW, added that she believes her team is more ready to face adversity moving forward thanks to successes this weekend.

Ferris said that her team now knows what it’s like to be in close games, win in overtime and how to keep composure with a slim scoring margin, which are all important as the playoffs draw near.

Sophomore midfielder Ellie Bullitt said that the biggest challenge was to not allow opponents’ goals to rattle her side’s confidence.

“With them scoring first, the momentum kind of hits you hard,” Bullitt said. “And they were so amped up so we definitely had to come back from that. That was scary.”

McMahon, especially against the Colonials, felt that the game was up for grabs throughout.

“They kept it close the whole game,” McMahon said. “I never felt comfortable with any of our leads. It was always like they were clawing back and keeping it close so I give them complete credit for that.”

Despite the wins, McMahon noticed flaws in her squad, as she saw them allow the opposition to score goals in bunches and get back into the game, which she said should have been avoided.

“It’s good that we have the ability to win close games,” McMahon said. “But at the same time, if we weren’t turning the ball over it wouldn’t be as close as it should be.”

Bullitt said that sharpening up basics and approaching every game with a fighting mentality is key moving forward with the conference slate.                                                                 “From here on out, all of our games are gonna be really tight and we can’t take anyone lightly,” Bullitt said. “A lot of teams can upset other teams and this is the time in the season where every game matters. Everyone is coming out with their best game.”

Ferris ties scoring record

After hitting 226 career points on Sunday, Ferris will become the sole owner of the program’s points record with her next goal or assist.

Ferris said she was unaware of her feat until after Sunday’s game, and that breaking the record isn’t something she thinks about on the field. But, she says, to be compared with past UMass greats is special.

“When I first got here, I was learning from one of them,” Ferris said. “I learned from Jackie, she taught me a lot and to be compared, it’s awesome.”

McMahon said that she has seen Ferris benefit from role models to become a player who wants to reach the next level.

“She steps up,” McMahon said. “She’s a great shooter, fearless, confident, we want the ball in her stick, especially in close games like this and she stepped up today. She’s a winner.”

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