Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass defense corrals Duquesne in win

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(Daily Collegian/Erica Lowenkron)

(Daily Collegian/Erica Lowenkron)

As the University of Massachusetts’ trademark ferocious wind swirled in the background Sunday afternoon, the UMass women’s lacrosse team put on an equally tenacious defensive performance to blow past Duquesne in a 15-9 win at Garber Field.

The Minutewomen (9-1, 2-0 Atlantic 10) showed their offensive diversity with seven different scorers, while the Dukes (3-6, 1-1 A-10) had a mere four scorers, the most prolific being sophomore Jill Vacanti, who finished with five goals.

At the end of the first half, Duquesne had put up three goals, all of which came courtesy of Vacanti.

“I knew that she was going to be a tough and crafty player,” UMass sophomore Kristen LoManto said of Vacanti. “I had to step up, so I wanted to make sure that I was staying with her, watching her feet and her hips to see where she was going.”

All of Vacanti’s goals were recorded as unassisted, making her the only offensive creator for the Dukes in the first half. Along with LoManto, senior Kate Farnham and other defenders participated in a face guard style defense on Vacanti to try and contain the creative attacker.

“We went in and out of it (man-defense), and when we were out of it was when (Vacanti) was getting to the net more,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said.

Vacanti went on to score two more goals in the second half, scoring on five of the seven shots she took.

“We got exposed a little bit and need to make sure that we’re stepping up and not letting a top player like that score that many goals,” McMahon said.

But UMass was quick to make sure Duquesne had little offensive success outside of Vacanti.

Duquesne finished with 17 shots on goal, while the Minutewomen more than doubled that with 39 shots on goal, with their defense keeping the game in their favor.

McMahon had her team in a full-field press for bits and pieces of the game that proved to be too much for the Dukes to handle. Duquesne goalie Jenna Bishop was stuck cradling the ball for minutes at a time because no one was able to get open.

“I think our speed and athleticism, especially on our defensive side, is where we’re strongest,” McMahon said. “Knowing that we have such great speed, we want to put a lot of pressure on teams and not make it easy for them to transition the ball.”

McMahon’s emphasis on defense shines brightly in the scorebook, with her team forcing 14 turnovers in the game, also frustrating the Dukes into recording three yellow cards.

Through March 31, UMass is ranked the third best defensive team in the NCAA with 47 goals allowed and an average of 5.88 goals allowed per game.

“I think that we have a really strong defense,” LoManto said. “We just have to keep playing aggressively and keep meeting our goals every game.”

Mollie Walker can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @MWalker2019.

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