Cori Murray lifts UMass to double overtime win over Richmond

By Patrick Strohecker

With 1 minute, 57 seconds left in double overtime, Massachusetts women’s lacrosse  attack Cori Murray came around the cage, moved across the crease and found the back of the net to lift the Minutewomen to their seventh straight victory in a 12-11 triumph over Richmond at McGuirk Stadium on Friday.

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

The goal was Murray’s second of the contest as she also scored the game-tying goal for UMass (10-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) with only 42 seconds left in regulation.

“I knew how bad Richmond wanted it, but we wanted it more,” Murray said. “Once we got that ball in the attacking end, I think any of us would have done anything to put the ball in the goal. I was just determined to get to the goal and put it away.”

The 13th-ranked Minutewomen were facing their first conference defeat in nearly three years before Katie Ferris cut the Spiders’ lead to  one with just over a minute left in the game after her shot from in close barely trickled across the goal line.

Murray, who struggled finding the target the entire game, collected the ball off the ensuing face-off and went down and scored her first goal of the contest in close to force the game into overtime.

“(This game) still does build confidence because we were able to win with not necessarily playing our best game,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said.

The double overtime victory only accentuates how close Friday’s game really was.

UMass broke open a close game early in the first half, going on a 6-0 run to take an 8-3 lead  into halftime. The run was sparked by Sam Rush’s natural hat trick in a span of 2 minutes, 8 seconds to close out the half.

But, much like many other games between the two conference rivals, Richmond (3-9, 0-2 A-10) was not going down without a fight. The Spiders mounted a furious comeback, opening the half on a 6-1 run to tie the game at 9-9 forcing McMahon to use her final timeout.

McMahon told her team “just to settle down. Any mistake that we might make, which in lacrosse there’s turnovers that happen all the time, that we need to make sure that we’re following that up with a good play.”

Richmond continued its run out of the timeout, eventually opening up an 11-9 lead with just over five minutes to play.

The key to the Spiders’ run was not allowing the Minutewomen to get good looks at goal by playing good man-to-man defense throughout the course of the entire game.

“I think they were just solid 1-v-1 defenders,” Murray said. “They were sliding early on our 1-v-1s, which was not allowing us to really go as hard to the cage.”

UMass entered Friday’s game averaging 16.1 goals per game, but were held below its average for the first time in the last five games.

Sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Vallarelli surrendered her second most goals of the season, but came up with timely saves in overtime, making three key stops to keep Richmond from claiming the victory.

“Just stop the ball. Do it for my team,” Vallarelli said said of her efforts. “They all played great for me. The offense played great. In the second half, when I was having trouble making saves, they stepped up and were doing really great.”

Vallarelli finished the game with eight saves. Offensively, Ferris and Rush led the Minutewomen with three goals apiece, with Ferris adding two assists as well.

UMass will have a tough task on its hand, as it now has to put Friday’s dramatic victory behind it and prepare for Sunday’s conference matchup against George Washington.

“We kind of have to just move on, but focus on the things that we didn’t do a great job on, which again, was draw controls, turnovers, those things we’re going to have to do a better job in those areas on Sunday,” McMahon said.

Sunday’s game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start time at McGuirk Stadium.

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