With playoff spot clinched, UMass looks to secure top seed in A-10 Tournament

By Patrick Strohecker

Taylor C. Snow/Collegian

Despite already clinching a playoff spot in next weekend’s Atlantic 10 Tournament, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is still determined to push forward.

The Minutewomen (13-2, 5-0 A-10) may be the first team to clinch a conference playoff spot with a 14-7 win over Saint Joseph’s last Sunday, but they aren’t content with just being in the playoffs. They want to be the best team.

“We keep pressing forward,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “It’s something that we take pride in, in terms of how we do against our top conference opponents, but I think it’s also important for us to make sure we’re going into conference play with good momentum and playing well.”

UMass is riding a 10-game winning streak into the final weekend of the season, in which it has won by an average of 7.6 goals per game.

Still, McMahon believes her team has a lot to improve on before the A-10 playoffs.

“Definitely there’s still areas of improvement,” McMahon said. “I guess that’s something that’s a bonus, in that, we can still improve and get better. Taking care of the ball, finishing our shots, limiting our opponents’ shots. Just the overall theme that we’ve been talking about all year of possessing the ball and being smart.”

But, the desire to always improve comes with the risk of possible injuries. The Minutewomen have been able to avoid any serious injuries this season, but risk many of their top players getting injured if they play their regular minutes in the final two games.

“We definitely want to stay healthy, but we need to keep moving forward,” junior Katie Ferris said. “We want to be No. 1. It’s not enough for us to be No. 2, three or four.”

UMass will play in its final road game of the regular season Friday at last-place St. Bonaventure and then host rival Duquesne in the regular-season finale. UMass needed overtime to defeat the Dukes during last season’s meeting between the two teams.

Fortunately for the Minutewomen, they have the experience of playing in close games, with three of their last four wins coming by two goals or less.

“I think it is important because (those games) gave us a bit of a reality check in terms of just how good some of these teams are in our conference,” McMahon said.

With the Dukes (9-5, 4-1 A-10) sitting one spot behind UMass in the conference standings, Sunday’s game could wind up being for the top spot in the conference tournament, forcing the Minutewomen to battle to the very end.

UMass’ road game against the Bonnies (5-9, 0-5 A-10) will be on Friday at 1 p.m. The Minutewomen will then return home for their final regular season game against Duquesne at noon at McGuirk Stadium on Sunday.

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