Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse tops Yale at Garber Field

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(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

Ten minutes into Saturday’s contest between the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team and Yale, the two were neck and neck with the score knotted up at two.

That’s when the Minutewomen (4-0) put up seven straight goals to close out the first half, en route to a 13-3 victory over the Bulldogs (1-2) at Garber Field. Yale would only score one more time over the game’s final 50 minutes.

Saturday’s game began at noon, with the temperature lingered around the freezing mark for most of the game. But amidst the cold, UMass’ offense continued its red-hot play, dominating the time of possession and shots on goal (20-13).

“Our team is very dynamic,” Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon said after the win. “We want to get everyone involved, and get all of our different looks … anyone on our offensive side can step up and score a goal.”

Defense was also a point of emphasis for the UMass, as its aggressive play in front of the cage staggered the majority of the Bulldogs offensive advancements. UMass outshot Yale 16-8 in the first half, and held the Bulldogs scoreless for a span of nearly forty minutes – 20:05 in the first half to 11:27 remaining in the second half. Yale matched the Minutewomen’s notorious man-to-man style of defense, but to little avail.

Leading the way for the Minutewomen were senior attackers Nicole Troost (4 goals) and Erika Eipp (1 goal, 3 assists), their top-two leading scorers this season. Troost improved her goal total to a team-high of 13, while Eipp tallied her team-leading 11th assist. Both benefited from UMass’ ability to pass quickly and set up scoring opportunities.

“Ball movement is very important to our offense. A lot of our plays and sets revolve around ball movement,” Troost said. “That’s how we work together and work to score.”

As usual, the offense flowed smoothly, headed by the efforts of some of the Minutewomen’s most experienced players. UMass spent most of the game in the offensive end, moving the ball and executing most everything it tried to accomplish. The Minutewomen offense excels in ball movement and patient offense, which begins with setting up plays from the X position, behind the cage. As the others circulate in front of the net, they set off-ball screens, look for scoring lanes, and crash the net when the ball is up for grabs.

“Usually, I feel more comfortable from behind the net, and today that was definitely effective for us,” Eipp said. “Anytime a shot goes off or the ball is on the ground, everyone is crashing. We all crash the ball in two’s and three’s, doesn’t matter where it is,” Troost added.

Once a substantial lead was in place after scoring nine unanswered goals – four from Troost, a pair from Bella O’Connor and one apiece from Murphy, Eipp, and Allison Ryan – UMass slowed the game down, eating away at the clock by controlling the ball and continuously smothering Yale’s offensive attack.

“Our defense is very team oriented, and we pride ourselves on being aggressive and getting out on ball,” reigning said reigning Atlantic 10 Defender of the Week Kate Farnham of her team’s counterattack. “We know we’ll have each others backs.”

In the cage, goalies Sam Walters (freshman) and Aileen Kelly (sophomore) split playing time, each playing a half, as they have every game this season. Both benefit from a superb defense, but each made decisive saves over the course of the game, further solidifying McMahon’s faith in both her goalkeepers.

“They’re both stepping up big time,” McMahon said. “With each game, they get more and more confident, and both step up in key moments. I’m very impressed with them.”

After capping off its four-game homestand to start the season, UMass will travel to Boston College Wednesday to face one of the nation’s top women’s’ lacrosse programs.

Henry Brechter can be reached at [email protected]

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