Roster depth key for UMass women’s lacrosse

By Henry Brechter

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

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team has surged through the last decade to become one of the nation’s top programs, and has done so with veteran leadership and starpower year in and year out.

But this season, as the wins, statistics and accolades pile up, the team’s best players haven’t been the only ones deserving of credit; more and more young players are stepping up and impacting games, something UMass (13-1, 6-0 Atlantic 10) coach Angela McMahon likes to see.

“We definitely focus on getting as many players involved as possible,” McMahon said. “It’s easy for a defense to take out one or two players, so we need all of our players to step up and get involved.”

This is not to say the team’s stars have not shown up this season. Reigning A-10 midfielder of the year Hannah Murphy is third in the country with 7.5 draw controls per game, a stat that reflects her sheer dominance in ball control and the team’s focus on possession.

Senior attacker Erika Eipp, last year’s A-10 Player of the Year, and a 2016 Tewaarton Watch List nominee, is second in the nation with three assists per game, and has 72 points on the year, three short of her 2015 total with three regular season games left to play.

Fellow senior attacker Nicole Troost is tied for sixth in the country with 3.5 goals per game in what has been by far her most successful season. Her 42 goals this season is more than she scored in her first three collegiate campaigns combined (38).

However, Eipp and Troost’s production is more a reflection of how well the team works together, a theme that McMahon believes will set this year’s tournament chase apart from those of previous seasons.

“Our depth this year has allowed us to play the full 60 minutes in almost every game,” McMahon said. “We have veteran leadership on both ends of the field, and we’ve played many good non-conference opponents, which has definitely built up our confidence looking forward.”

Aside from the upperclassmen, UMass has benefited greatly from younger players stepping into roles of their own. The Minutewomen play fast and aggressively, and rotate many bodies to keep their team firing on all cylinders. This allows most of the players on the team to get solid field time, and some have greatly overachieved in their secondary roles.

Sophomore attacker Holly Turner, despite not starting a single game this season, has compiled 23 goals and the same number of assists. Her 46 points through 14 games is third most on the team, and in just her second season, she is already showing potential as a successor for her senior teammates. Eipp, Troost and Eileen McDonald are all in their final year, and will leave large shoes to fill in coming seasons.

After transferring from Florida, highly touted recruit Hannah Burnett has shown flashes of offensive brilliance in her limited time with the team. The redshirt sophomore attacker is fourth on UMass with 21 goals, and was named the A-10’s co-player of the week on Monday..  Over the weekend she scored 10 goals, had two assists, and was a big part of the Minutewomen scoring 42 combined goals in their games against La Salle and St. Bonaventure. She is another player that will be looked upon to continue the winning trend once the seniors have moved on.

For the Minutewomen, a tournament birth is well within reach, but McMahon knows her team cannot look too far ahead; she and her players are just focused on the next task at hand.

“We’re not there yet,” McMahon said. “We just want to win the next game. Every game we step out for needs to be our best game of the season.

Henry Brechter can be reached at [email protected]