UMass women’s lacrosse looks to maintain streak against old and new conference foes this weekend

By Nick Souza

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

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team is looking to maintain its blistering offensive streak that saw the Minutewomen score 42 times in two games last weekend against St. Bonaventure and La Salle.

With just three games left in conference play before the Atlantic 10 tournament begins, UMass (13-1, 6-0 A-10) will travel to Richmond, Virginia this weekend for a pair of games against conference rivals Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth.

“We’re definitely not taking this team lightly at all,” Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon said of the Spiders. “They have some very strong players. I think they are a better team than what their record shows.”

Both Richmond (5-8, 1-5) and UMass have a history of competing against each other in the postseason and have met in the last two A-10 championship games.

However, the Spiders have hit a rough patch heading into this game, losing their previous five contests by a combined eight points, with four decided by just one goal.

Regardless of the record, Richmond should provide one of the toughest challenges for the Minutewomen this season. The Spiders are the only team in the conference which average more shots per game (30.9) than UMass (30.1). They are led by freshman attacker Mia Castagnero, who has a conference-high 7.9 shots per game and is fourth in the conference in goals (34).

Her teammate and midfielder Brooke Wilson is third in shots per game (6.2), and both players will be on the No. 3 ranked Minutewomen defense’s radar.

“Like any other team we’re focusing on who their top dodgers and feeders are, and trying to watch our game plan and limit their shots,” UMass defender Kate Farnham said.

Draw controls and ground balls will go a long way in determining which team will rack up the shots. On the front line of that battle will be midfielder Hannah Murphy and the Spiders’ Caroline Queally – ranked first and second respectively in the conference in draw control wins.

“She is very good, but we just stick to our game plan and I focus on myself,” Murphy said. “We definitely take her skill into account, but I don’t worry too much about that.”

Both teams rank in the top two of the A-10 in draw controls as well as ground ball controls.

“The circle players are going to be big in this game,” McMahon said. “When the two draw takers are this good sometimes they end up canceling each other out, so it becomes a 50/50 ball.”

A whole new territory

Following a tough matchup against a familiar conference foe in Richmond, the Minutewomen will make their first ever journey to Cary Street Field to play the newest addition to A-10 women’s lacrosse in VCU.

The Rams’ (3-11, 1-5) first season has been as tough as one would expect, but being the new team on the block definitely provides a unique challenge for UMass.

“They’re going to come out with a lot of energy and they’re going to be excited to play us,” McMahon said. “You really need to be on guard against a team like them. They can be really scrappy and if you’re not expecting it they can sometimes catch you on your heels.”

The lack of familiarity along with the quick two-day turnaround could be cause for concern, but it isn’t fazing the Minutewomen.

“We’re pretty good,” McMahon said. “We scout them out well and we have plenty of film on them.”

“We’re trained to deal with the conference Friday-Sunday schedule, and when we’re on the road we treat it like a business trip,” Farnham added. “We just have to keep our focus through Saturday.”

The Rams rank near the bottom of the conference in save percentage and goals against average, which should play well into the hands of the No. 3 ranked offense of UMass.

Both senior attackers Nicole Troost, who leads the conference in goals (42), and Erika Eipp, the conference leader in assists (42) and points (72), should pave the way offensively in both games this weekend.

The first game against Richmond is set to start at 4 p.m. Friday, with the following matchup against VCU taking place Sunday at 1 p.m.

Nicholas Souza can be reached at [email protected]