UMass women’s lacrosse advances to A-10 championship with 12-3 win over George Mason

By Andrew Cyr

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian
Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

If there was any doubt the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team would overlook the Atlantic 10 semifinals and have its focus solely on the championship game, it was crushed fairly quickly.

UMass (17-1, 9-1 A-10) has won six consecutive conference championships and Friday’s 12-3 win over George Mason was the first hurdle in its quest for number seven.

Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon knew coming into Friday that the mental game was going to be more important than the physical game and said she was happy with the way UMass responded.

Goalkeeper Rachel Vallarelli and the rest of the Minutewomen defense took control early in the first half as they held the Patriots scoreless through the first 36 minutes, 50 seconds. They took a commanding 7-0 lead heading into halftime and never looked back.

The defense allowed just one shot in the first half, while Vallarelli finished with a season-high 11 saves in cage.

“It was critical,” McMahon said of Vallarelli’s performance. “They had some pretty good looks on cage in the second half. She’s been making those stops year-round so it’s not that it’s surprising but I would definitely say her performance was clutch today.”

Although only tallying a trio of goals on the scoreboard, George Mason (10-7, 5-4 A-10) played much better in the second half, outshooting the Minutewomen 14-to-8 and held the advantage in ground ball pickups 11-to-3.

For the game, however, UMass held the shot advantage 20-to-15 and won the draw control battle 10-to-5 to maintain an overall upper hand in possession time.

Attacker Nicole Troost and midfielder Hannah Murphy each recorded three goals apiece for the Minutewomen while Amy Tiernan and Erika Eipp scored two goals each.

“I think it was that we were all on the same page and stuck to our game plan today,” McMahon said. “George Mason held the ball for some pretty long possessions and I thought we did a good job of staying focused and detail-oriented.”

Taylor Carpenter made seven saves in cage while Mackenzie Jones, Alexa McGovern and Erin Anderson netted one goal each for the Patriots in a losing effort. George Mason tallied its first two goals early in the second half while its final tally came with eight seconds left in regulation.

The Minutewomen will next play No. 2 seed Richmond – who defeated Duquesne 11-9 Saturday – in the finals Sunday at noon in Washington, D.C. The matchup will mark a rematch of last year’s title game when UMass prevailed 10-6 in Richmond.

Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.