UMass women’s lacrosse battles its way to victory despite uncharacteristic performance

By Nick Souza

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

Throughout the season, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team has built its success on winning the battles for draws, ground balls and shots. That was not the case on Friday against Richmond.

UMass (14-1, 7-0 Atlantic 10) managed an 18-10 victory over the Spiders (5-9, 1-6 A-10), extending its wining streak to 10 games, but it did not come as easily as the score may suggest.

For only the second time all season the Minutewomen were out shot by their opponent, 35-33, with the only other time coming in their loss to Boston College.

UMass barely managed to win the battle for ground balls (22-18), as well as draw controls (15-14).

“Every time we play them it’s a battle,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “It’s good competition for our team at this point in the season.”

The 35 shots by Richmond were also the most shots the Minutewomen have faced all season, but defensively McMahon felt UMass held up well.

“Getting a lot of shots off is just how they like to play,” McMahon said. “I think our defense did a good job forcing a lot of shots to be taken at low angles.”

The Minutewomen maintained solid execution offensively despite not having senior attacker Nicole Troost, who leads the team with 42 goals. Troost was sidelined with an injury not disclosed by McMahon, and will be re-evaluated before Sunday’s game.

The scoring leaders for UMass were not usual suspects of Troost or Erika Eipp –who was fully healthy and playing – but sophomore Hannah Burnett (four goals) and junior Callie Santos (five), who combined for half of the 18 goals scored by the Minutewomen.

The greatest moment of doubt for UMass came early in the second half following Burnett’s second goal on the day one minute, 24 seconds after play resumed, bringing the Minutewomen’s lead to 11-4.

The Spiders went on to score four straight goals in less than three minutes bringing the score to 11-8.  Richmond controlled four consecutive draws, not allowing UMass to establish any offense during that time, forcing McMahon to call a timeout.

Whatever McMahon said in the huddle worked as senior defender Amber Tobin ended the drought for the Minutewomen in the circle and came up with a draw control that allowed themselves to re-establish offensive rhythm.

Santos scored her third goal following the draw control, extending the lead 12-5 with 23:30 left to go.

“(Santos) managed to beat a couple of defenders one-on-one, and she really stepped up and had a great game for us today,” McMahon said.

The start of the game was almost a mirror image of how it ended with Santos opening the scoring two minutes into the contest. The Minutewomen built an early 7-1 lead by the 11:46 mark in the first half.

A strong push by Richmond attacker Kim Egizi, who scored three goals in the last 10 minutes of the first half, gave the Spiders a burst of life. But UMass took a 10-4 lead into the half.

The Minutewomen closed out the game scoring seven of the last nine goals en route to their 10th straight victory.

The Minutewomen will stick around the Richmond area for Sunday’s game against Virginia Commonwealth set to start at noon.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected]