Minutewomen get extra time to prepare for their match-up against rival Connecticut on Saturday

By Nick Souza

 

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)
(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is practicing on the Astroturf surface of Gladchuk field by McGuirk Stadium in preparation for their road matchup against rival Connecticut this Saturday.

By the time UMass (4-1) lines up for the opening face-off, it will have been 10 days since its tough 9-8 loss to Boston College last Wednesday. While this could have a negative impact, the Minutewomen are looking at the positives.

“I don’t think we’ll ever really forget the game, but we’ll learn from it knowing that we don’t want to lose again,” senior defender Anne Farnham said.

UMass will need to learn from its mistakes and be as focused as possible on both sides of the ball, with UConn (4-0) averaging 15 goals a game while holding opponents to just seven.

Defensively the Huskies are backed by senior and 2015 Big East goalkeeper of the year Shannon Nee. Last year she posted the best save percentage in the league at .471, and is off to a strong start this year with a percentage of .594.

“She really is phenomenal and generates a lot of turnovers for her team by playing aggressively out of the net,” Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon said.  

Along with holding opponents to 28 goals on 84 total shots this season, UConn’s defense has also managed to cause 51 percent of their opponents turnovers, compared to 39 percent for UMass with an extra game.   

With the combination of turnovers and strong play in net, UMass will need to be at the top of its game offensively.

“We just need to move the ball quickly, be patient with our passes, and be aware of (Nee)’s position on the field,” senior attacker Nicole Troost said.

Offensive performance impacts the scoreboard but also how the defense plays for the Minutewomen. In last weeks game against the Eagles, their inability to generate enough scoring chances in the second half made that apparent, and they’ll be looking to correct that issue on Saturday.

“We need to trust in our defense and be confident that they’ll do their job, and we really need to pick it up on the attack. They’re really our first line of defense, and they also make sure we aren’t playing too much defense in a game,” McMahon said.

While UMass has the seventh ranked scoring defense in the nation coming into Saturday’s game at 5.8 goals per game, they will have their hands full with the Huskies’ 15 goals per game ranking them sixth.

Senior attacker Katherine Finkelston leads UConn’s offense averaging 4.25 goals per game, second in the nation. She also leads the team in overall points on the season with 20.

“We just want to be ready for them because they are a great team and this game will ultimately come down to draw controls and 50/50 balls,” senior defender Kate Farnham said.

The game also promises to be fast with the Astroturf surface, and it will require some adjustments for the Minutewomen.  

“A lot of it is just judging when to run for a pass and being able to judge where the ball is going to go when it hits the ground, and we’ll be able to work on that the whole week,” Anne Farnham said.

When all circumstances and attributes are accounted for, this promises to be another great installment of the UMass-UConn rivalry in women’s lacrosse. The Minutewomen aren’t expecting anything less.

“We know UConn is one of our biggest games of the season, there’s a lot of history there with our rivalry,” Kate Farnham said.

The opening face-off is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Sherman Family Sports Complex in Connecticut.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected].