UMass women’s lacrosse struggles to find offense in loss to No. 5 Syracuse

By Henry Brechter

UMass Women’s Lacrosse fell to Boston College 10-18 in the season opener at Garber Field on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 8, 2017. (Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

The Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team fell 17-8 to No. 5 Syracuse Saturday afternoon in upstate New York.

After a difficult four-game stretch to start the season, the Orange are arguably the best team the Minutewomen will play in 2017. Syracuse (4-0) is undefeated through four games, including an 18-8 season-opening win over Boston College in which they held the at the time No. 17 Eagles to two second-half goals.

“We turned the ball over too many times against a top-ranked opponent,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said after the game. “Obviously with that, you give up a lot more scoring chances, which they were able to capitalize on. With that, we weren’t generating enough offense, we needed to take more shots and get engaged more, and we weren’t generating enough opportunities. I thought there were a couple things we did well, but the lack of offensive production was what killed us in the end.”

UMass (1-3) is experiencing an uncharacteristic skid to begin the season.

“It’s a long season,” McMahon said. “We’re just working to improve every day. I really do think the one positive is that we’ve steadily gotten better since our first game against BC.”

Redshirt sophomore Kiley Anderson had a career day for the Minutewomen, netting four goals and matching up against Orange draw control specialist Morgan Widner, who leads the country in draw wins per game. Anderson’s performance was a lone positive for the Minutewomen on a day, as they were outshot 43–21.

“Anderson really stepped up,” McMahon said. “This was probably her first big game in terms of scoring goals, getting good opportunities, taking some draw controls for us too. She was one of the few bright spots for our offense yesterday. We thought that with her height and ability to draw, she might be able to get it away from their player, who is specifically a draw control specialist.”

Anderson helped the Minutewomen win 12 draws to Syracuse’s 15. Hannah Murphy, who usually handles draw controls, was given the opportunity to get the ball off the draw in the open field.

In addition to four goals for Anderson, Cassidy Doster had two, while Callie Santos and Kaitlyn Cerasi each had one. Freshman goalkeeper Lauren Hiller had 11 saves in net, while Sarah Crowley led the defensive unit with eight groundballs, three draw wins and four forced turnovers.

Ten Orange players accounted for the their 17 goals. Freshman Emily Hawryshuck had three goals, and junior Riley Donahue finished with a game-high five points on two goals and three assists.

Despite an evenly-played game for the first 10 minutes, Syracuse outscored the Minutewomen 6-1 over the rest of the first half to take a 9-3 lead at the break. UMass got back within five goals after 1:45 halftime, but the Orange ripped off three straight goals to permanently stretch their lead to nine.

UMass now has a full week off from games before it faces Connecticut next Sunday at Garber Field.

“There will be a particular emphasis on taking care of the ball and generating more offense,” said McMahon of the team’s practice plan going forward. “Whether it’s out of transition or in our settled offense, I think it’s going to be a huge focus for us.”

“It’s our goal in any game we play to be over 10 goals…so that’s our game plan moving forward,” said McMahon. “[We need to be] continuing to work on both individual development with our offense and the team development with our offense, making sure that were learning from each game.”

Henry Brechter can be reached at [email protected]