Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass women’s lacrosse in right mindset with season winding down

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(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

It’s hard not to be impressed with this year’s Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team.

Before playing a single minute of game action this season, UMass (9-3, 4-0 Atlantic 10) was ranked No. 19 in the nation. However, the Minutewomen went on a skid to start the season, only winning one of their first four games, including losing on home-turf for the first time in 22 games, in their 18-10 loss to Boston College Feb. 8.

With more losses than wins to its name, UMass returned home to square off against a solid UConn team March 5. Following a good first half up 7-4, the Minutewomen were outplayed in the second and saw their lead fade into a 9-9 tie. The game went into overtime and senior Callie Santos scored the game-winner 3:17 into extra-time, in a victory that has since proved to be a hallmark of UMass’ season.

Even when things seem to be favoring the opposition, the Minutewomen’s bend, not break mindset has been a major reason for the team’s current winning ways. Since that emotional win a month ago, UMass has gone undefeated, have had multiple players write themselves into the school record books and have continued its conference winning streak that extends all the way back to the 2010 season.

Each game has brought its ups and downs but at this point in the year, it’s likely you can count on the Minutewomen responding to each and every challenge thrown their way.

“It’s a grind but I think a huge piece of our identity is that we embrace it,” UMass coach Angela McMahon said. “It’s a grind and I think we thrive in the grind and that’s where we’re at right now.”

“We’re trying to harp on not getting comfortable, not getting complacent, and trying to stay fired up,” senior Hannah Murphy added. “Not taking any games lightly and not taking any games for granted I think is huge.”

This week the Minutewomen will be on the road travelling to La Salle and St. Bonaventure, after an emotional 19-13 victory against their rival Richmond this past weekend, and the stakes will undoubtedly be raised as the consecutive A-10 win streak UMass has compiled has the potential to reach and surpass the elusive 50-mark.

Not only that, but the Minutewomen have just five games remaining on their schedule before championship season rolls around. With the pressure seemingly building following each game, McMahon feels this is the part of the season that they’ve been preparing for.

“I think right now our players, over the course of the year, have been through that type of tough atmosphere where they have been forced to work through challenging practices and training,” McMahon said. “Now they get to enjoy it and enjoy all that hard work that they’ve been putting in and have that pay off.”

Mental toughness is crucial for any team to have because when one person has it, it tends to rub off on other players, and in UMass’ case, that seems to be what has contributed the numerous overall team efforts of late.

McMahon also highlighted how the little things her team does and the small aspects of her players that go largely unnoticed, are just as valuable as goals and assists.

“Hannah Murphy doesn’t necessarily have the huge amount of goals or assists but what she does for our program, in terms of the draw, is kind of unbelievable,” McMahon said. “She’s sort of that equalizer where, Callie had a bunch of goals, but Hannah had a ton of draws. Lauren Hiller made a ton of saves, our defense was swarming them and causing turnovers or forcing their attackers to make rushed decisions, and quick shots that put us at an advantage.”

“Our midfielders don’t have a lot of stats, but they have to run the whole field the whole time, and they’re putting pressure on the other team’s midfielders and they don’t get a lot of recognition but they do a lot of valuable things,” McMahon added. “I think that those things are all happening but I think that a lot of the focus and attention obviously goes to goals and assists.”

Freshmen Stephanie Croke and Kaitlyn Cerasi were two other players McMahon singled out and expressed her excitement that they’re getting involved so quickly into their careers.

The Minutewomen feel like they are in a good spot and even though almost every aspect of their game is clicking right now, the strong-will exuded from the players be just as critical as offense and defense moving forward.

“Every year when we get to A-10’s we have a target on our back and everyone wants to beat us. The upperclassmen are constantly reminding the younger guys that this is a big deal and you can’t take a game off,” Murphy said.

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.

About the Writer
Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

Ryan is an assistant sports editor for the Daily Collegian. A senior, Ryan primarily covers the UMass hockey team.

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